TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- The SenIran Auto plant in Thies, Senegal's second largest city, has built its first Iran-Khodro Samand sedan.
Asghar Haji Amin-Shirazi, the manager of the Samand project in Senegal, made the announcement, adding that the body and paint shops have launched operation.
Iran's envoy to Dakar had earlier said that the assembly line for the manufacture of Iran-made Samand passenger cars in Senegal would soon launch production.
The Samand-manufacturing plant, founded through joint venture and with the annual production capacity of 5,000 cars , is located in an industrial complex 60 kilometers from the capital, Dakar.
Once the plant starts production, Senegal would join the very small club of African car-manufacturing countries.
Meantime, the Iranian automobile manufacturer has also announced plans to begin the export of Samand EL to Turkey shortly, priced at around $13,000 per unit.
Sukru Seskir, CEO of IKCO Turkey distributor MYS Automotive, said on Tuesday that IKCO had entered the Turkish market with the Samand LX model last year, and had attracted great interest, a press tv report said.
"We have sold over 1,600 automobiles since we entered Turkish market. This figure is over our target," he noted.
IKCO currently runs 21 offices in Turkey, and the company plans to increase the number to 50.
Samand EL will be sold in Turkey as early as next month and the Samand Soren model will hit the market in July.
All Samand sedans are equipped with ABS brake system, air bags, air-conditioner, and central locking.
According to experts, French, German, and Italian automobiles top the list of cars in the Turkish auto market, but Turkish people's inclination towards Samand, irrespective of its competitive potential, seems to be due to the cultural commonalities between the two Islamic nations.
Iran Khodro is the largest carmaker in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa regions with annual production of more than one million various vehicles including cars, trucks and buses.
Samand trade name is now registered at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Iran-Khodro group, the Iranian car manufacturer and owner of Samand, is the first Iranian company whose product is registered at the WIPO.
The state will ensure against the fraudulent use of the name, industrial design, and copying of the product manufactured by the company worldwide.
Azerbaijan, Belarus, Syria, Vietnam, Venezuela and China are among the many world countries which either have asked for or are already assembling this popular Middle-Class automobile.
Meanwhile, many other world countries, including Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan are considered as established importers of petrol and gas-powered Samand models with left and right-hand steering-wheels.
Marketing researches have shown that given the financial capability of European and South Asian markets and the competitive advantage that Iran enjoys, Iran-Khodro can gain a foothold in many world markets in a relatively short period of time.
The company has other automobile production ventures with foreign countries and companies in a bid to market share for increased exports to regional markets.
Croatian Ambassador to Tehran said last year that the people of East Europe are waiting for the Iranian-made passenger car 'Samand'.
She also said that after the launch of operation of Samand assembly line in Azerbaijan and Belarus, the manufacturing company, Iran-Khodro, now has better chances for gaining access to the CIS and East European markets.
According to the diplomat, Iran-Khodro officials have announced that they would soon start exports of Samand to Poland, while the company is now studying other East European markets, including Romania and the republics of former Yugoslavia.
Iran started export of the latest model of Samand to 32 different countries in autumn 2007.
Manouchehr Manteqi, Managing Director of Iran-Khodro Car Manufacturing Company, recently stated that the above-mentioned countries are among customers of Iran-Khodro, which have imported Samand LX and GLX before, adding that his company has planned to manufacture 8,000 Samand Suren till May, 1,200 of which would be exported to the aforementioned countries.
Samand Suren, Iran's first passenger car achieving Euro III emission standard, rolled off the assembly line several months ago.
Aside from reducing its exhaust gas pollutants, the fuel consumption of the sedan has also been cut, and as a result of the modifications made to the new models of Samand, particularly its Engine Management System (EMS), the engine performance has been significantly enhanced.
Better drive ability, knock reduction and improvement in the engine's power output are cited as other changes made to the earlier model, according to the company officials.
Manteqi said Iran-Khodro has plans to export 600,000 cars and USD10 bln worth of products by 2016.
"To achieve this goal, we have decided to double our exports," he continued.
Manteqi said that Iran-Khodro's exports amounted to USD150 mln and USD315 mln in 2005 and 2006, respectively, adding that his company will export USD600 mln worth of products in the current Iranian year (ending on March 20th, 2008).
The company has other products including different models of Peugeot.
Iranian Industries and Mines Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian paid a visit to Egypt last winter to attend an inauguration ceremony marking the official launch of operation of the assembly line of Iranian Peugeot Pars passenger car in the African country.
Meantime, Iran, in cooperation with Malaysia and Turkey, is due to make a car for the Islamic markets, in particular, and the rest of the world, in general. According to Manteqi, the assembly line for the production of the said car will launch operation in 2011.
Manteqi said Islamic countries would be behind all the investment and production.
"Each Islamic country can order the additional equipment based on its own needs. In addition to Islamic countries, this car is capable of being presented in all global markets," Manteqi said.
Manteqi said his firm, which produced more than 525,000 cars and pick-up trucks in 2006/07, was chosen by the Organization of The Islamic Conference (OIC) to lead the project.
This car will be sold for about 6,000 to 8,000 Euros. He said the main target markets would be in Africa, the Middle East and southeast Asia.
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