US lobbyists are claiming that they are forcing car companies out of Iran – on pain of becoming toxic brands in America.

Last week Peugeot announced it was stopping supplies to its Iranian joint venture, which was more important than you might imagine. Iran was basically put on wheels by the Hillman/Chrysler Hunter in the 1970s and, when Peugeot bought Chrysler, it took over the deal and supplied Peugeot 405 and 406 models (the orange car above is the Hunter). The total number of Chrysler/Peugeots supplied now runs into the millions. The pull out is expected to cost Peugeot £750 million a year in lost turnover.


Hyundai followed Peugeot's move, with the lobbyists claiming they were instrumental in the Korean company's decision. A spokesman for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) told industry website just-auto from New York, "We were the ones that announced Hyundai had ended its business in Iran. Our extensive consultations with Hyundai are confidential - that should give you an idea of how informed we were."

Now UANI is aiming at Nissan, which is said to still have interests in Iran. It has also recently won the contract to supply yellow taxi cabs to New York for 10 years from 2013, using the NV200 small van/MPV. In a letter to Nissan, UANI said, "New York taxpayer dollars should not benefit a corporation that partners with a regime that is the world's number one state sponsor of terror and has formed an alliance with al-Qaeda."

Given that this is an election year in the USA, and Iran is now Public Enemy No. 1, the stakes are high. Any tabloid headline that links "New York Cab" to "Iran" would be something to dread.