* See the Top 15 local brands, Top 10 cars, pickups and imports by clicking on the title *
Thanks to our partnership with CE Auto we can share with you exclusive detail on the Iranian new car market with updates on both local production and imports over the First Quarter of 2018. Unfortunately the Iranian new car market is, once again, at a crossroads. The lifting of the economic sanctions following the nuclear deal signed in April 2015 had enabled Iranian car sales to return to their highest level: the 1.718.565 all vehicle sales reported by OICA in 2017 are a new record, beating the previous highs of 1.688.194 from 2011 and 1.642.843 from 2010.
In our July 2015 Strategy Analysis What future for new car sales in Iran? we predicted total sales in the country would reach 2 million annual units before the end of the decade. This prediction held up until a week ago, with the withdrawal of the U.S. from the nuclear agreement seeing the spectre of economic sanctions return, and with it an imploding car market. Sales dropped an abysmal 52% between 2011 and 2013 to just 800.000 units under the impact of such sanctions. During the remainder of 2018 we will witness the withdrawal or at least drastic reorganisation of most foreign carmakers currently active in the country if, as it seems highly likely, economic sanctions should again be applied to Iran.
The First Quarter of 2018 roughly corresponds to the last three months of the Persian year 1396 which ended on 20 March 2018. As yet unharmed by potential sanctions, the Iranian light vehicle production is up 7% over Q1 2018 to 421.515, however showing reduced gains as the year has gone by: 149.712 light vehicles were produced in January (+9.8%), 143.766 in February (+6.2%) and 128.047 in March (+4.9%). An estimated 95% to 98% of the local production is sold in Iran, meaning the production rankings give a very close picture of what the best-sellers in the country are. In contrast, imports have drastically slowed down over the period, going from 25.725 in Q1 2017 to just 12.640 this year, a 50.9% drop.
Big event atop the locally-produced brands ranking: Iranian carmaker Saipa edges past Peugeot at 122.548 units produced over Q1 vs. 121.234 for the French manufacturer, despite the added volume of the mass production kick-start of the Peugeot 2008, accounting for just under 2.900 units. The remainder of the Top 7 remains unchanged, with Iran Khodro, Renault and Chery rounding up the Top 5 followed by Brilliance and Dongfeng. Kia leaps up two spots to #8, local pickup manufacturer Zamyad remains at #9 while JAC drops two ranks to #10 ahead of Haima (+2), Changan (-1), Zotye (+2) Bahman (-2) and FAW up four spots to crack the Top 15. That’s no less than 8 Chinese carmakers among the Top 15 local producers like in 2017, with Lifan (now #22) replaced by FAW. A total of 18 Chinese brands are produced in Iran out of 29 active brands, accounting for 15.5% of the total production vs. 14.6% over the Full Year 2017.
Model-wise, we also witness a momentous shift, with the Saipa Tiba/Saina jumping from #3 over FY17 to pole position, overthrowing long-term best-seller the Saipa Pride (a 1986 Kia Pride) by almost 3.000 units. The Peugeot 206 is also knocked down one spot to #3 while the Peugeot 405, Pars, Iran Khordo Samand and Renault Tondar 90 (aka Logan) hold onto their ranking. The Iran Khodro Dena overtakes the Renault Sandero for #8 and the Brilliance H330 replaces the Dongfeng Aeolus S30 as the most produced (and best-selling) Chinese nameplate in Iran and sole one in the Top 10.
The Chinese invasion continues below, with the Chery Tiggo 3X up two spots on its FY17 ranking to #13, the Haima S7 up six to #14, the Changan CS35 up three to #15, the Chery Fulwin 2 down two to #14 and the Zotye Z300 (sold as the Saipa Ario) up five to #17, ahead of the JAC S5 (#18), Brilliance H320 (#19), Chery Tiggo 5 (#20), FAW Besturn B30 (#22, selling 2.5 times more than at home in China!), JAC S3 (#23), Chery Arrizo 5 (#25) and Chery Tiggo 3 (#26). We welcome the Hyundai Accent (#27), Haval M4 (#42), Iveco Daily (#43) and BYD F3 (#44) in the production ranks. The Zamyad Z24 continues to top the pickup charts above the Bahman Cara, Saipa 151 and Iran Khodro Arisun with the Renault Tondar Pickup at #5.
As far as imports are concerned, Hyundai reclaims the top spot it lost to Renault in 2017, with the French carmaker down to #2 and Mitsubishi up four ranks to round out the podium. 2018 is the year of the big return of Volkswagen in Iran at #4 importer with 1.382 cars, just 10 units below Mitsubishi but well above Toyota and Kia. This come back might be very short-lived if economic sanctions return. Chinese MG leaps up to 7th place, distancing Nissan at #8 (-3) and Ssangyong at #9 (-3) while Mazda breaks into the Top 10.
The Hyundai Santa Fe remains by far the best-selling import in Iran and the only one along with the Renault Talisman at #2 (+4) to sell over 1.000 units over the period. The VW Passat lands directly at #3 and the VW Tiguan directly at #8, the Kia Optima is up 6 spots on FY17 to #4, the Toyota Hilux is up 29 to #5 and the MG GT up 43 to #6. The Nissan Juke (+4), Mitsubishi ASX (+11) and Outlander (+8) also rank inside the Top 10.
Full Q1 2018 Top 15 local brands, Top 10 cars, pickups and imports below.