SAIPA has signed an agreement with a Belarusian company to supply 45,000 Shahin and Quick model cars, with potential deliveries to the Russia market, Press TV reported.
The ministry’s spokesman Omid Qalibaf did not clarify whether the Iranian carmaker would directly deliver the vehicles to Russia or via Belarus.
Many factories in Russia have suspended production and furloughed workers due to shortages of high-tech equipment because of sanctions and an exodus of Western manufacturers since the Ukraine war broke out in February 2022.
Russian Ambassador to Tehran Alexei Dedov was earlier cited by RIA Novosti news agency as saying that SAIPA had discussed exporting more than 20,000 cars per year to Russia.
Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, however, must certify any deliveries. Authorities in the country need to test Iranian cars, built on the basis of localized foreign platforms, in harsh Russian winter conditions.
Iran Khodro exported some of its vehicles to the Russian market between 2007 and 2009, but some buyers reportedly complained that they could not handle cold Russian winters.
According to data from Russia’s Autostat agency, there were 10,400 Iran Khodro cars in Russia as of July 2022, which are represented by the Samand model – a Class C sedan car based on Peugeot 405.
Iran Khodro and SAIPA participated in an auto parts exhibition in Moscow this past summer and held talks with their Russian partners.
Last November, president of the Association of Homogeneous Powertrain Industries and Parts Manufacturers Mohammadreza Najafi-Manesh announced that Moscow and Tehran had signed an MoU worth $300 million for Iranian car exports to Russia.
The Ukraine war has upended car production in Russia which is the eighth-largest automotive market in the world. Several global manufacturers have halted deliveries to Russia, while others have been forced to pause production due to a lack of parts.
In May 2022, IRNA said a leading Russian automotive company had sounded out Iranian parts and equipment manufacturers on the possibility of supplying its production lines with required products.
Iran’s auto sector has started standing on its own feet after years of reliance on imported car kits which foreign companies stopped supplying when the US reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018.
Iranian automakers picked up the slack after France’s Peugeot and Renault exited Iran along with other international companies in the wake of US sanctions which created a supply crunch which saw car prices vault to unprecedented highs.
The crisis forced Iran Khodro, SAIPA and other companies to pool up local resources to produce Iranian-made vehicles, with the Defense Ministry joining in to manufacture some of the hi-tech parts which Iran used to import.
Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali has said the two countries are also considering joint production of automobiles.
Moreover, Russia has begun test imports of Iranian-made tractors as Moscow expands sourcing some of its needs previously reliant on Europe from the Islamic Republic amid Western sanctions.
Earlier this month, the first group of Russian technicians, consisting of 13 people from St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk oblasts, has completed training courses on service and maintenance of Iranian tractors at Iran Tractor Manufacturing Industrial Company (ITMCO) in Tabriz.
ITMCO Chief Executive Mostafa Vahidzadeh said Russia has already issued standard certificate for ITMCO products and imported the first batch of Iranian tractors.