The Middle East’s largest automaker has unveiled a four-door sedan, claiming its engine is the world’s most powerful run by natural gas. It’s a significant development in a country that has converted more than 250,000 cars to run on the stuff.
The company, Iran Khodro, says the turbocharged engine in the Samand Soren ELX produces 150 horsepower, 37 more than the CNG-powered Honda Civic GX and just four short of the gasoline-burning four-cylinder Toyota Camry.
Iran Khodro unveiled the car Saturday in Tehran, and the Tehran Times says it was developed “under the intellectual property of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” which explains why there was a picture of the Ayatollah looking over the car.
Company CEO Manouchehr Manteqi says the car meets Euro IV emissions standards and adds, “its nominal power will not decline even at the height of 2,000 meters above sea level.” That’s 6,561 feet for the metrically challenged, and it’s significant because Tehran, like Denver, is located about 5,000 feet above sea level.
Manteqi didn’t offer any other details on the car, but the Samand LX uses a 1.7-liter four-cylinder that produces 100 horsepower. It does 0 to 62 mph in 11.9 seconds and tops out at 115 mph.
Iran Khodro is partially owned by the government, and it has a joint venture with Peugeot to build the Logan econobox (sold in Iran as the Tondar 90) and the 206 compact and 405 sedan. Although the global auto industry is slumping, Iran Khodro plans to ramp up production and ease its dependence on foreign suppliers, according to Reuters.
Tehran, a city of 12 million people, has long been plagued by pollution. That’s changed in recent years as the city has adopted natural gas buses, forced taxis to convert to CNG and taken decrepit old cars off the road. More than 250,000 cars have been converted to natural gas since 2004, according to the Los Angeles Times.