Pininfarina recently announced a commercial agreement with Iran Khodro (IKCO) for the development of a modular automotive platform, able to underpin at least four different vehicles including a medium segment passenger car.

Activities will include definition of the concept architecture and its development, styling, product development, mass production engineering and support for the start of production. The agreement, worth about EUR70m, will last 36 months.

Pininfarina Group CEO Silvio Pietro Angori said: "The agreement with Iran Khodro represents another important step in the growth strategy of Pininfarina on markets of the new Silk Road and the Middle East. We are happy to contribute to the development of the Iranian Automotive industry through a very significant styling and engineering programme for our company."

Iran Khodro said in a statement the Pininfarina agreement was additional to a 10-party MOU signed with nine other domestic and foreign companies to design and develop a series of platforms and products for IKCO.

Others include Sharif University of Technology, Amirkabir University of Technology, "a German firm involved in manufacturing new engines", Belgian and South Korean gearbox designers and manufacturers plus "another German firm active in axle and component designing".

The separate Pininfarina-IKCO contract will see the Italian firm design and develop new vehicles through cooperation with the MoU signatories.

"The necessary investment for the contract has been estimated to amount to US$270m. The legal arrangements for its implementation are under way in Iran," ICKO said.

"This is the largest international contract ever signed by an Iranian company."

Iran Khodro said the first vehicles based on the new platform, including hybrid and electric vehicles, would be ready within two and a half years.

CEO Hashem Yekehzare said IKCO had already invited Amirkabir and Sharif universities to take part in the joint production of hybrid and electric vehicles.

"Since our earlier days in IKCO, we've attached significant importance to platform development. However, based on our agreement with Peugeot, we are entitled to use the French company's platforms for our products as well," he added.

IKCO and Peugeot recently celebrated the official start of mass production of the Peugeot 2008 and the updated Dena+ sedan.

Yekehzare added the Peugeot 301 would enter the market by the end of this Iranian year followed by another model next year.

The full implementation of a contract with PSA would will lead to the development of platforms for IKCO to produce various models including sedan, hatchback, crossover, SUV, hybrid and electric variants.

IKCO's deputy CEO for design and development, Kamran Sepehri, said the agreement was signed as part of a strategic plan to increase share share in the domestic and regional markets.

He noted that to survive, IKCO needed to manufacture vehicles capable of competing with their foreign rivals.

"Designing and developing a platform comprising over 60% of a vehicle will significantly contribute to the diversification of our vehicles," he said.

He added IKCO had a strategic goal to export 30% of its products by 2025.

Vehicles built on the new platforms would meet local and European standards.

"We will produce 23 vehicles based on two platforms."

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