After a hiatus of 50 years, Fiat will resume car production in Iran. Beginning in the second half the 2005, the cars produced will be dual-fuel models: CNG and gasoline. In the initial phase more than 100,000 cars are to be manufactured, later increasing to 250,000.
Fiat dubs its dual-fuel model range the “Natural Power” cars: these include versions of the Punto, Doblò, Ducato and Multipla. (Fiat last year announced it would be developing a quad-fuel vehicle for Brazil—earlier post.)
Iran is making a push to implement CNG as a vehicle fuel—as the second-largest holder (behind Russia) of natural gas reserves, it makes economic and political sense. Better to sell the oil and not be dependent on refineries. (The country is also looking to fuels derived from natural gas, such as DME.)
As of 20 December 2004, there were 22,058 NGVs (including 1,207 buses) and 40 refueling stations with 108 stations under construction, according to the Iran Fuel Conservation Organization. The country will have 100 CNG fueling stations online by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 2005).
Currently, 2,000 buses can be fueled per day in Tehran. This will increase to 3,000 by late September 2005 and 5,000 by the end of November. The country’s current CNG fueling capacity can serve 36,500 sedan cars and 2,600 buses per day. (Statistics from IANGV.)
Around 800,000 vehicles were sold in Iran last year, and some industry watchers expect that number to increase by 50% in five years. (AP) With such a baseline, the Fiat dual-fuel cars rapidly could become a significant presence in the new Iranian fleet.