Hyundai cars roll off assembly line in Iran

TEHRAN (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. saw its first Iranian-made cars roll out of the factory on Wednesday, industry officials said, adding that production ultimately would crank up to 100,000 cars per year.

"The first Hyundai Verna models assembled by Kerman Motor were delivered to their Iranian customers today," said a spokeswoman for the Kerman Automotive Industries Co., the automaker's Iranian partner.

Jae Won Joo, Hyundai's general manager in Iran, said: "In the initial stage, 20,000 to 30,000 cars will be assembled in Iran."

The company targets production of 100,000 cars per year, he added, declining to give a timeframe, or specify the value of the production deal.

"We think we can easily hit that target and give the Iranian customers new choices in buying cars," he said.

The cars are being built in the province of Kerman in southeast Iran.

Kerman Automotive Industries started assembling Daewoo cars in Iran in 1992, but the South Korean company was bought a decade later by General Motors and stopped cooperation with the Iranian partner.

Kerman Automotive then sought new partners to replace Daewoo in Iran's growing car market.

In July, the company signed an agreement with Volkswagen, Europe's largest automaker, to assemble more than 20,000 cars, which are scheduled to reach the Iranian market in December.

French automakers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen already have signed deals to build cars with state-run Iran Khodro, the Middle East's largest carmaker.

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