A powerful US lobby organisation campaigning against a potentially nuclear-armed Iran is to target automakers involved with the renegade state at this week’s New York motor show.
Some 12 companies have been highlighted by the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) body, itself based in New York and headed by influential American political figures such as former US ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Wallace.
The UANI has highlighted a series of European Union sanctions, that this week saw PSA Peugeot Citroen announce a suspension of business in Iran – a move that could potentially cost the French automaker alone around 1.5% of its annual US$79bn turnover.
The French move – in line with EU sanctions – was swiftly followed by Hyundai halting its business dealings with Iran where it had extensive operations including a joint venture to make vehicles.
However, the group is now putting further pressure on other automakers including Nissan that has won the lucrative contract to supply New York taxis.
“We are using the show to specifically target automakers,” a UANI spokesman told just-auto from New York. “Those companies such as Nissan and Fiat are here in New York promoting themselves. We are trying to shed light on the fact some them are doing business in Iran.
“We hope they will see they need to make a choice between American customers or their business in Iran. We were the ones that announced Hyundai had ended its business in Iran. Our extensive consultations with Hyundai are confidential – that should give you an idea of how informed we were.”
Nissan’s corporate website has its Middle East operations and shows a highlighted map over where Iran is situated, although no details of the Japanese manufacturer’s activities were available.
UANI is clearly targetting Nissan however, as last year the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) selected the Nissan NV200 – a medium sized van as the city’s taxi beginning in late 2013 for a ten-year period.
The development follows TLC’s request in December 2009 for manufacturers and designers to send ideas of a vehicle to serve as New York’s cab as part of the Taxi of Tomorrow competition.
In a Presidential election year in America, UANI maintains the potential of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons has soared to the top of the candidates’ foreign policy agenda.
“Iran is huge,” said the UANI spokesman. “If you watch the republican candidates’ [for example] debate, it is the main topic that comes up. [President] Obama has asked about it five times a week.”
Nissan in the US was not immediately available for comment.