Muslim countries, three for now, are joining hands to manufacture a new car that is expected to hit the world markets in 2011, the head of the Middle East's biggest carmaker and partner in the project, Iran Khodro, announced on Wednesday, December 12.
"The Islamic car is a joint brand among member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)," Manouchehr Manteghi was quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) as telling a press conference.
Iran Khodro, which has production sites in seven countries and exports vehicles to 32, was chosen by the 57-member OIC to lead the project.
It will be joined by partners from Malaysia and Turkey.
Manufacturers from the three countries and an OIC delegate will meet in Tehran in January to prepare the framework of the project, which would later be debated during an OIC summit.
"If it is adopted by the OIC, the project will be launched in March 2008 and take three years to complete at an estimated cost of 200 to 500 million dollars," said Manteghi.
Muslim countries will pay for the investment and production and the project's platform is likely to be in either Iran or Malaysia.
"But any Muslim states which are interested will be welcome to join and have a share in the production."
The car will be sold for about 8,800-11,700 dollars, with the main target markets in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Iran Khodro, the largest automotive producer in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, has partnerships with global carmakers, such as a joint venture with France's Renault to make the no-frills Logan, sold in Iran as the Tondar-90.
It also makes vehicle models such as Peugeot's 206 and 405 and Suzuki Motor Corp's Grand Vitara.
Manteghi said the new vehicle would be aimed at boosting economy and industry in Muslim markets.
However, the car will be designed to meet universal standards rather than being accustomed to Muslims solely, he affirmed.
"This car will be produced with the latest technology and it will measure up to all global standards."
Last month, the Malaysian automaker Proton said the car would be fitted with Islamic features such as a compass to determine the direction of the holy city of Makkah and compartments for the Qur'an and hijab.
But Manteghi clarified that the Islamic features would come as "added options" to the car.
"Each Islamic country can order the additional equipment based on its own needs," he said.
"In addition to Islamic countries, this car is capable of being presented in all global markets."
IOLGüncelleme Tarihi: 14 Aralık 2007, 14:19