“This project is [being set] up to stop the monopoly of car business by European, American and Japanese brands [by] introducing a joint-brand [in] Islamic countries within three years,” claimsManouchehr Manteghi, chief executive officer. “Demand for the car will pass 5 million units in 2011.”
Manteghi’s company may be relatively unknown to many individuals in the United States, but it is not a small start-up. In fact, Iran Khodro is the largest automaker in the Middle East, with assembly lines in Egypt, Iran and Syria. The company also has plants in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Venezuela.
Iran Khodro has produced more than 500,000 vehicles in 2007 alone. The 45-year-old company builds sedans for Peugeot, in addition to its own line of cars under the Samand brand. Iran Khodro also builds diesel trucks for Daimler AG (Stuttgart, Germany), Hyundai Motor Co. (Seoul, South Korea) and the China National Heavy Duty Truck Corp. (Jinan, China).
According to Manteghi, the new car will be marketed in 57 Islamic countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. “Forming a market of common-interest countries for exchanging cars and parts, developing and facilitating economic ties, and providing a suitable ground for the joint ventures of Islamic countries in the car industry, with the use of [a] created financial base, are some of the most important goals of this project,” he points out.
Is the auto industry ready to mix religion and assembly? The possibilities certainly are intriguing. Perhaps the Vatican should consider developing a Catholic Car. Or, how about a Jewish Jeep?