Hasan Sarbakhshian  /  AP file
Various models of the Iranian-made Paykan are shown on the road in this 2001 file photo. Iran ended production of the country's most popular car Sunday after nearly four decades
updated 5/15/2005 7:58:32 PM ET 2005-05-15T23:58:32

Iran Sunday ended nearly four decades of production of the country’s most popular car, the shoebox-like Paykan, the state-run television reported.

The car was first manufactured in 1967 and more than 2.2 million were produced, but it became an environmental hazard and a major cause of pollution in Iran. An estimated 40 percent of the passenger cars clogging Iran’s roads are four-door, boxlike Paykans.

“Paykan shouldered Iran’s auto industry for years. But we could not continue our support of domestic products at any cost,” Industry Minister Eshagh Jahangiri said in ceremonies marking the end of Paykan’s production.

“I congratulate Iran Khodro Co. for its brave decision in stopping the Paykan assembly line with the intention of advancing Iran’s automotive industry,” he said, according to the state news agency.

The Paykan, a four-cylinder time capsule, get only 12 miles to a gallon of gas and is a major source of air pollution. The design has barely changed since its inception.

But the Paykan, which means “arrow” in Farsi, is a budget car in Iran, costing about $5,000.

Paykan survived the 1979 Islamic revolution and maintained its popularity through the 1990s as Iran Khodro and other Iranian carmakers won licenses to produce more attractive foreign rivals, including Peugeot, Kia, Renault and Nissan.

But both the Environmental Protection Organization and the Iranian Fuel Conservation Organization insisted that Paykan be phased out because it cannot meet environmental and safety standards.

Iran is seeking to join the World Trade Organization, which would mean opening up its protected market to foreign competition. Iran banned car imports in 1993 to boost employment and help domestic automakers.

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