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Kish Khodro rolls out newsports-utility car 

Mehrdad Balali  
Kish Island (Iran), May 21: Iran on Sunday launched a new-look sport utility vehicle targeting young drivers at home and abroad.

The new vehicle, named `Sinad,' is the first offering from Kish Khodro Company, a joint venture based on the Gulf island of Kish, one of three free-trade zones set up to draw foreign investment.

Private Iranian investors hold 51 per cent of Kish Khodro shares, a state development bank owns 40 per cent and BMS Management, a British engineering group that designed the vehicle, holds a 9 per cent stake.

"Since the (1979) revolution, this is one of the very few private ventures that has succeeded in car production," said industry minister Gholamreza Shafei at the inauguration.

BMS is the second foreign company with a stake in an Iranian automobile firm, after Germany's Mercedez Benz, which is in a joint venture to build trucks.

French carmaker Renault signed an agreement with the Kish plant last December to deliver parts for the new car.

Kish Khodro started the $11 million Sinad project with an initial production target of 5,000 SUV's a year, rising to 15,000 per year in the future, said the company's chairman Mohammad Safari.

The two-door Sinad is priced at about $10,000. A four-door and Sports models are due out later.

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