Iran Auto industry Conference: France Goes Back Alone?

China goes where others fear to tread...

China goes where others fear to tread…

In the leadup to last weekend’s Auto Industry International Conference in Tehran, organizers boasted that nearly every nation would be represented, including “France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Britain, China, India, Czech Republic, South Korea, Spain, Egypt, Switzerland and Denmark.” In the extended [sic] of one recent official press release, “US automakers are better not to miss the opportunity.”

But miss it they apparently have, along with all the non-French global majors.

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France: GM Officials Meeting With Iran

 

Iran so far away...

Iran so far away…

GM’s alliance with PSA Peugeot-Citroen is one of the bigger mysteries of recent automotive history, fusing two badly underperforming operations tied to a market that’s desperate for consolidation. And, sure enough, as time has passed the scope of the alliance has been reduced, GM’s investment has been written down, and even core platform-sharing aspects of the alliance are being left behind. Without a strong justification in the first place, the GM-PSA alliance has now drifted into pure incomprehensibility, leaving analysts scratching their heads and wondering what comes next.

In the absence of even a basic narrative with which to make sense of the GM-PSA dealings, analysis of the situation from France has turned towards anger at GM. Though it has gone totally uncovered in the US media (at least as far as I can tell), French journalists are now alleging that GM’s PSA maneuvers were all about Iran. The allegation, if true, is stunning: that GM’s alliance with PSA was an attempt to wedge the French automaker out of a market it has long dominated, and that with relations thawing between the US and Iran, GM officials have been meeting counterpoints at Iran Khodro to prepare for GM’s re-entry into that market.

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