Daimler Pushes Ahead With Talks to Return to Iran Truck Market

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Daimler AG is exploring a return to Iran with its trucks, vans and buses and may team with Iran Khodro Co., the biggest auto producer in the oil-rich country, as western companies seek to benefit from the end of economic sanctions.

Iran Khodro may sign a deal with the German maker of commercial vehicles and luxury cars as soon as three months from now, Chief Executive Officer Hashem Yeke Zare said to reporters in Tehran on Tuesday. Daimler may open an office in Iran within two to three months, the Iranian CEO said.

“Mercedes-Benz is an old partner for Iran Khodro, and it has announced to us its interest and readiness to work with us,” Yeke Zare said. He declined to comment on the financial scope of any partnership with Mercedes parent Daimler.

Daimler pulled back on business in Iran in 2010 amid rising political tensions. The moves included giving up a 30 percent stake in a diesel-engine joint venture with Iran Khodro and withdrawing plans to export three-axle trucks. It’s one of many European carmakers considering a return, lured by a market that could average 1.7 million vehicles in annual sales in the longer term, according to estimates from IHS Automotive.

“The position for us in terms of trucks and cars and our broad portfolio is a good one,” Daimler Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber told reporters Tuesday in London. “It’s too early to say how far that can be, but of course we are in contact with our business partners to have discussions how to restart.”

Daimler declined to comment on specifics of any talks with Iran Khodro.

Should German exports return to the pre-sanction levels of a decade ago, it could mean as much as an additional 4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) in revenue for the country’s companies, Deutsche Bank analysts said in a July 16 report.