Khodrocar – Japanese car makers in Iran include Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Lexus and Honda helped a lot to form a complete and diverse vehicle portfolio in Iran as they are one of the most imported car brands in this country. Japanese are often famous for their low fuel consumption, high production quality and proper option levels.
The name was derived from the ancient period of Zoroastrianism in Iran history that is the Avestan name for the creator and sole God. The presence of Mazda in Iran dates back almost close to the age of automobile industry in Iran in 1959. With the sanctions applied and most global car makers pulling out of Iran car market, there are rumors about Mazda leaving Iran as well. Yet Bahman Motor, Mazda’s oldest partner in Iran, keeps denying the rumors and insists on the continuity of the plus 60 years relationship between the two parties and talks about new products to go on production line.
Bahman Motor was established in 1952 but signed contract with Mazda back in 1959 and since started assembling Mazda’s trikes with the payload capacity of 200 KG. The company did a lot to Iran’s new revolution as their Mazda 1000s and Mazda 1600s went into production in 1971 and played great role in taking over the market of work trucks for official organizations and civilian daily businesses.
In the 1980’s production of more modern sedans started and the Mazda 323 was a proper and beloved vehicle of people’s choice. After long period of time and production of 323 in various trims like the F, FL and SL, the newest productions were Mazda 2 and 3. The production of Mazda 2 hatchback started in 2011 but soon halted in 2014. Yet the Mazda 3 sedan is on production today seeing two different generations on four different trims, is one of the most wanted sedans in Iran. Last but not least, Bahman Motor is also partner to another Japanese car makers, ISUZU. They together produce light and heavy commercial trucks.
Last before USA to pull out of JCPOA, there were talks regarding the production of new series of Mazda cars, the third generation Mazda 3 and the new CX-5. Unfortunately that deal is now on hold, facing an unknown desteny.
Toyota started great with Iran car market and kept going even better. Always kept exporting vehicles to Iran but never show any positive sign of domestic-production type of relationship with Iran.
Toyota entered Iran car market in 1974 through its official dealer named IRToya with only 4 Toyota Celicas imported to Iran. The brand faced various troubles as vehicle import to Iran got banned several times during a long period of time. But IRToya kept importing parts and providing services until the import prohibition stopped. The last time Toyota started importing vehicles to Iran was in 2004 until now that importing any vehicles is completely banned.
The most beloved Toyota cars in Iran are corolla, Camry, Aurion, Yaris, Prius, HiLux, and Land Cruiser Series. Important to mention that IRToya also imported notable Lexus models such as NX, RX, ES, IS, GS, LS and LX series.
Nissan was also present in Iran before the 1979 revolution. Nissan officially entered Iran car market in the 1980s and the first company partnered with Nissan was Pars Khodro (Means Persian Automobiles. Formerly known as Iran GM, producing AMC and GM vehicles before revolution). Pars Khodro started partnership with Nissan by assembling Patrol as the first Nissan vehicle. After years there were First generation Nissan Navara truck, Roniz (Non-North American Nissan Xterra, the SUV version of the Navara 1st Gen truck), Maxsima (Cefiro A33), Teana (Cefiro J31), Murano and Qashqai. Unfortunately the only Japanese based vehicle still in production is the ancient pickup truck called Zamyad24/SAIPA24 which is actually the altered version of the historic Nissan Junior pickup of the 1950s. Altered and upgraded so many times and with the Z24 engine patent bought years ago by SAIPA, there is nothing left with the car to be called Japanese.
Through 11 years of Maxima, Pars Khodro Managed to sell over 27 thousand units making this one of the most wanted Nissan vehicles in Iran which comes from its spacious interior, powerful 3.0L V6 powertrain and smooth handling. Nissan kept contact with Pars Khodro until 2011 but then the connection got cut because of the sanctions.
Jahan Novin Aria (JNA) started over to import some new Nissan models to Iran in 2016. Big time success Nissan Juke was the first new imported model that was followed by the X-Trail model. Juke repeated Nissan’s global successes as the statistics show that more than 80 percent of Iranian Nissan buyers are youths.
It is not long since Suzuki made it to Iran car market by cooperating with Iran Khodro Co. Iran Khodro dedicated its Khorasan production line to Grand Vitara model since 2006 to produce this well wanted SUV in Iran. Beside Grand Vitara, the Kizashi is the other only Suzuki vehicle that was limitedly imported to Iran to be used as a study case for marketing. Although it was always positively criticized but never had the chance to meet the production line.
Mitsubishi took part in Iran car market mostly as a sole importer but fortunately one great model got the chance to cease the SUV section of the market with the Pajero (AKA Montero/Shogun) model by being produced in Iran through partnership with Bahman Motor. Presence of Mitsubishi dates back to 1971 with the import of Galant, Lancer and limited numbers of Eclipse. Imports were banned for 12 years but after that in 2005 to 2007, Bahman Motor assembled Pajero. After huge ups and downs Mitsubishi handed over its official dealer license in Iran to Arian Moto Pouya in 2011. The company imported various models such as Mirage, ASX (Outlander Sport), Outlander, and Lancer and just before the sanctions blow out the relationship between the two parties, the Eclipse Cross was the last model unofficially presented to Iranian automobile journalists but never had the chance to hit the real sales market.
Golrang Family Motor is the official Honda dealership in Iran since 2015. The three main imported models to Iran were Civic, Accord and CR-V. Honda had a great past in Iran before revolution with its great motorcycles. Back in 2000s some imports included 1990s Honda Civics and Accords that were greatly welcome by Iranian Japanese car lovers. Unfortunately the dealership was not that successful in making a good brand image as Honda deserved.
A Japanese car maker with lots of titles in motor sport but never gain respect in Iran car market as it deserved. Safe Khodro represented Subaru in Iran since 2004 and some limited numbers of fourth generation Legacys (BL and BP) were imported to the country. It was nothing much until 2014 that Safe Khodro unveiled three new models, XV, Legacy and Forester but has never managed to successfully
Khodrocar Journalist: Fazel Souri
Khodrocar Translator: Shahab Anisi