Belarus "extremely dissatisfied" with Iran car-building project
A senior Belarusian official on Wednesday said his government was "extremely dissatisfied" with the work of a carmaking joint venture with Iran, the Belapan agency reported.
"After five years of work we've only managed to build 1,000 automobiles, and we only managed to sell them because I pressured the Interior Ministry and other government agencies into buying them," said vice premier Vladimir Semashko, DPA reported.
Semashko sharply criticized the Samand, a four-door car produced under license in Belarus in cooperation with the Iran Khordo Industrial Group (IKCO), Iran's largest car-builder.
"The price (for the Semand) is high and the model is outdated," Semashko said, in remarks made during a meeting of government council on manufacturing.
IKCO executives have refused to invest in the project, leaving Yunison unable to produce vehicles of sufficient quality for the Belarusian market, Semashko said.
"The Iranian side was given the task of installing assembly lines for welding and painting," he said. "The joint venture board members met to discuss this a month ago, but nothing came of it."
IKCO and Yunison, a Misk-based automobile manufacturer, in 2006 founded a joint venture planning the annual production of some 60,000 Samands for sale in Belarus and neighbouring former Soviet republics.
A key goal of the project was to help Iran and Belarus, both of which countries are subject to international economic sanctions for their human rights record, to develop a modern automotive industry.
The Samand, one of Iran's widely-used vehicles, is based on the frame of a Peugeot 405, which was released by the French manufacturer in 1987.
A Yunison-produced Samand currently retails for 15,000 dollars in Minsk automotive stores. Most Belarusian car-buyers looking for transportation in that price range prefer a used car imported from Germany.