Iranians Unveil Electric Car Prototype in Tehran
One year ago this month, French automaker Renault resumed shipments of car parts to its Iranian joint-venture, Renault Pars, as Western sanctions against the Persian Gulf country eased somewhat. The low-volume trade enables the continued production of the Tondar model, an Iranian version of Renault's low-cost Logan car, according to Reuters.
But Logan car parts, sourced from Renault's Romanian plant, may not have been the only model sent to Iran if you closely compare the newly revealed electric car at Tehran's Qazvin Islamic Azad University, pictured above. In nearly all respects, it closely resembles Renault's Twizy urban electric runabout. Check out the Twizy below:
Iran's Mehr News Agency reports the car took one year to complete, conveniently coinciding with the easing of economic sanctions. It is 2 meters long and 120 cm wide, measurements that are virtually identical to the Twizy. The MNA stories adds that some 450 parts in the car were fabricated by university researchers, suggesting that what Renault may have supplied were mainly engineering drawings for the vehicle. The most pronounced visible differences between the Iranian vehicle and the French Twizy appear to be largely cosmetic.
The most noticeable difference between the French UEV (urban electric vehicle) and the Iranian clone is their driving ranges. The 6.1kWh battery pack in the Twizy has a rated range of 100 km (62 mi.), while the Azad University vehicle claims double that. Recharge time is said to be 3 hours.
Given Tehran's serious air pollution problems and traffic congestion, a Twizy-like electric vehicle would make sense, especially if it were part of an Autolib-like carshare program like that in Paris. Tehran already has an excellent subway/light rail system. Creating an electric car-based intermodal rental system would be positive move to tackle both problems in a country where there's plenty of natural gas for power generation, but no gasoline refining capacity.
Regardless of the origins of the Azad University electric car -- and cloning the Twizy isn't a new phenomenon as the Nissan version below underscores -- providing the citizens of Tehran with a less polluting transportation alternative is a positive step for everyone.
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