Iran Khodro says it has inked a deal to start production in Azerbaijan next year, producing Dena, Runna, Samand and Soren vehicles at a site in Naft Chaleh, triggering the creation of at least 300 jobs.

“Given its long-time cooperation and bilateral political, economic and cultural ties with Iran, Azerbaijan has the capacity to serve as an export hub for IKCO’s products,” said IKCO CEO, Hashem Yekehzare, who added bus manufacture was also in the company’s sights.

Azerbaijan will provide a US$14m cash injection, while IKCO added it would “play a key role” with establishing technology at the plant, as well as training and technical knowledge.

Also present at the inking ceremony was Iranian Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, who recently told just-auto Tehran was looking to increase localisation rates in the country up to 80% as a condition for overseas companies establishing joint ventures.

“We have developed effective cooperation with each other over the past few years and now with the establishment of the new production line, our cooperation would be enhanced further,” said the Minister.

Estimates from ICKO forecast output from the ten hectare site will be around 10,000 vehicles per year generated from one shift.

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“At least” 300 new jobs will be created, with vehicles produced being sold in Azerbaijan as well as unspecified “Central Asian” countries.