Parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has criticized the quality of Iranian cars and called for more imported vehicles.
In a parliamentary discussion Saturday, Ghalibaf said that “a car with good quality can be imported” for $5,000 whereas the Iranian version of a Kia Pride, the cheapest and most popular car on the market, costs about around $8,000 (2 billion rials). But it is the parliament and the government, controlling foreign currency, who have not approved additional car imports.
Since the United States introduced ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions in 2018, threatening third parties dealing with the Iranian financial sector, Iran has struggled with imports, while European carmakers in joint projects have withdrawn.
Iranian automakers are also quasi-governmental companies, benefitting from favorable borrowing and lack of competition. Some media in Iran have speculated that this vested interest might have a role in blocking approval for imports.
Parliamentarian Ali Babai Karnami bemoaned an “unrestrained situation” in the car industry. “Who is responsible for the rising car prices?” he asked. “What does the industry ministry do? Shouldn't the parliament monitor [the market]?..The situation of the car market is unbearable and has also had a detrimental effect on the prices of basic goods.”
Earlier in the month, the deputy head of Iran's traffic police Teymour Hosseini claimed domestically-made cars were more liable to fatal accidents and blamed their low quality on a monopoly held by Iranian automakers.