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Friday, February 23, 2024

Daimler "completely suspends" Iran business

On November 11, 2010, Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche announced that Daimler has "completely suspended its Iran business". "The policy of the current Iranian leadership demands that we suspend our business ties with this country", Zetsche said. According to media reports Daimler and other German companies are "concerned that they could be named and shamed as supporters of the Iranian Regime. The fear to lose contracts in the United States is widespread." (1)

(1) Daimler beendet alle Geschäfte mit dem Iran, Financial Times Deutschland, 11.11.2010.


Daimler in Iran

Last update on April 15, 2010

STOP THE BOMB protested at the annual shareholder meeting of Daimler on April 14, 2010 in Berlin against Daimler's trade with Iran. Shareholders of the STOP THE BOMB coalition asked critical questions regarding business with Iran.

Most important was CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche's statement, that Daimler would reduce its business in Iran. He said that Daimler would give up its 30% share it holds in the Iranian company "Iranian Diesel Engine Manufacturing", a subsidiary of Iran Khodro. He further announced that Daimler would stop selling cars with three axes to Iran. Daimler would reduce its trade with Iran to old customers and would mostly concentrate on fulfilling old contracts. 

On the question whether Daimler would make special efforts to prevent the re-export to Iran via Dubai, Daimler board members answered that in 2009 8653 Daimler trucks as well as 274 city busses have been exported to Dubai. The vehicles have been „to our knowledge not been re-exported“ said a board member, but a re-export like this would not lie „in Daimler's responsibility“.

The turnover of the Iran business in the last three years amounted to approximately 0,1 percent of the annual turnover of Daimler. In 2009 Daimler exports amounted to about 79 Million Euros, in 2008 to about 96 Million Euros and in 2007 to about 100 Million Euros.

The Iranian company Khodro builds the truck models Mercedes Benz Atego, Axor and Actros as well as busses under licence.

In 2009 approximately 1000 assembly sets for trucks have been sent to Iran.

Daimler board members didn’t want to give further information about products they would stop selling to Iran in the future. As long as the situation (in Iran) did not change, one wouldn’t have to make further decisions.

The Daimler board members said that they were not aware of having business ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Daimler board would not see the necessity for a meeting with human rights organizations to discuss the effects of their Iran business, because “Daimler is a business corporation, not a political organization.“


More informations:

Daimler maintains an office in Tehran. [1] The general distributor of Mercedes Benz passenger cars is Setareh Iran. [2]

The state owned Iranian company Iran Khodro produces licensed Mercedes Benz cars. One of Daimlers business partners in Iran is thus directly connected to the Iranian regime. Iran Khodro is under the political influence of Ahmadinejads Government[3] and was at least once used in efforts to import materials for the sanctioned nuclear program under the disguise of civilian use. [4]

Current news report that Iran Khodro is planning to be privatized.[5] Often in Iran such "privatizations" mean that the Revolutionary Guards take over the companies, while private or foreign investors don't have a chance. The last case was the Telecommunication Company of Iran.[6]

The Iran Khodro Diesel Company is a leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles in Iran as well as in many other countries of the Near East and worldwide. In Iran they have a local market share of 70%. The company proudly mentions "half a century experience under licence of Daimler Benz (Germany)."[7]

Iran Khodro Diesel still offers various trucks with three axles[8], e.g. the nearly 10 meter long Mercedes Benz Axor 2628 with an gross vehicle weight of 26.000 kilos[9] or the Mercedes Benz Actros 3331K with a gross vehicle weight of 33.000 kilos. [10]

Such trucks can at least, after a conversion, be used for military means, which is why there are export restrictions: "After the Iranian army had on several occasions publicly displayed trucks that had been converted into mobile rocket launchers, the German Economics Ministry in April 2008 issued a ban on the export of 'trucks with three or more axles and a gross vehicle weight of more than 20,000 kilograms (44,000 lbs)' to Iran and Syria. In the past, Daimler has sold up to 1,000 trucks a year to Iranian companies."[11]

Daimler chief lobbyist Martin Jäger, until 2008 spokesman for former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier,[12] in April 2009 wrote an urgent letter to the Foreign Ministry protesting against export restrictions. Daimler has also applied for a permit to export the trucks with potential military use to the Islamic Republic of Iran -- despite the embargo.[13]

At the annual meeting 2009 Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Dieter Zetsche answered a question regarding the use of Mercedes trucks for firing missiles: "The conversion by third parties cannot be controlled."[14]

In 2004 there was a police raid of the Daimler office because of 453 trucks, which were suspected of being delivered to Iran via Saudi-Arabia. Military experts believed that such vehicles can be converted for military purposes. [15]

Daimler owns 30% shares of the Iranian Diesel Engine Manufacturing Co. (IDEM), which claims to be the leading manufacturer of diesel engines in Iran and the Middle East. The rest of the shares are owned by Iran Khodro and Iran Khodro Diesel. IDEM produces engines for trucks, cars, and industrial machines under license of Daimler. [16]

One of the customers of IDEM engines is the Iranian Heavy Equipment Production Company (Hepco). The company describes it's mission as follows: "The Company is engaged in the manufacturing, distribution and product support of road construction, mining & agricultural equipments, as well as fabrication and installation of voluminous parts for oil, gas, petrochemical and power generation projects”. [17]

Daimler is obviously willing to endanger its business in the U.S. for its Iran activities. Florida, among and many other states, have passed laws that pension funds have to divest from companies that are active in the Iranian energy business, which includes machines to develop infrastructure. [18] Similar laws have been passed by the US Senate and Congress. [19] Also public contracts in the US are endangered by Daimler's Iran business. For example, Siemens lost a 300 million dollar contract in Los Angeles in September 2009 because of political pressure and its' Iran business. [20]

The Daimler AG, with 25%, is the biggest and most important shareholder of the German Tognum AG, to which also the engine manufacturer MTU belongs. According to a study of critical shareholders MTU has delivered diesel engines for 10 Iranian "Kaman" military patrol boats. "The engines are offered as complete ‚system solutions', which includes stocks of spare parts and repair tools as well as training on board the ships. Additionally, the company offers a continuous and worldwide available service." [21]

You may also be interested in an older flyer of the peace initiative Stuttgart (German) about Daimler's Iran business and the answers from Daimler's board on questions regarding Iran from the 2009 annual meeting (German).

[1]  Daimler
Iranian Minister of Industries and Mines Ali-Akbar Mehrabian "presided over changes at the top of a number of large government-owned industrial firms such as motor vehicle manufacturing giant Iran Khodro. He has also overseen the knock-down sale of Iran's government-owned tractor-producing industry to holding companies owned by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.” Can Majles block Ahmadinejad's advance?, 31.8.2009,
  In March 2009 Iran Khodro made headlines after the head of the company tried to import big amounts of carbon fiber. He acted on orders of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, who is also responsible for the Iranian nuclear program. The material is on the UN blacklist, because it can be used for building centrifuges to enrich uranium.
Diplomats: Iran's national car company seeks banned carbon fiber, Haaretz, 12.3.2009,
Iran Khodro, Saipa to be privatized: official, Tehran Times, 12.4.2010,
Elite Guard in Iran Tightens Grip With Media Move, New York Times, 9.10.2009,
(See also footnote 3.)
"When you are on the road between Tehran and Isfahan, you could believe that there is hardly another producer of trucks and buses in Iran. Incessantly the big vehicles of the German company are rolling."
Geschäfte auf Sparflamme, Tagesschau, 23.6.2009,
Landmark court decision, Der Spiegel, 15.6.2009,,1518,630778,00.html
Diplomat geht zur Industrie: Daimlers neuer Außenminister, Stern, 31.8.2008,
Meister im Verhindern, Der Spiegel, 15.6.2009,
Razzien bei Daimler-Chrysler – LKW-Geschäfte mit Iran, Handelsblatt 12.12.2004,;833469
Geschäfte mit Iran - Florida straft Daimler und Siemens ab, Der Spiegel, 18.6.2007,,1518,489119,00.html
Iran Sanctions Bill Passed, 29.1.2010,



Jerusalem Post - Benjamin Weinthal: Daimler drops plans to sell Teheran missile-launch trucks (April 16, 2010)

Handelsblatt - Zetsches Optimismus perlt an Aktionären ab (April 14, 2010)