As the United State struggles to remain ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to the energy revolution, the Economist notes that there’s one area of the automotive world where the U.S. is far behind: consumer natural gas vehicles. Companies like Iran Khodro has made Iran the number one country in the world when it comes to CNG-based vehicles, and the U.S. is just a speck in Iran’s rear-view mirror by comparison.
Enter the Iran Khodro Samand Soren ELX
Iran Khodro, the Middle East’s largest automaker, is staking its reputation and its fortune on CNG-based vehicles. Its new four-door sedan, the Samand Soren ELX, is billed as the world’s most powerful vehicle that runs on natural gas. Iran Khodro claims the Samand Soren ELX’s turbocharged engine features 150 horsepower, which is 37 more horses than the Honda Civic GX model that runs on natural gas. Moreover, it’s only four horses short of the four-cylinder, gasoline and just four short of the gasoline-burning four-cylinder Toyota Camry.
Iran Khodro CEO Manouchehr Manteqi told Iranian press that the Soren ELX meets Euro IV emissions standards without sacrificing power.
“Its nominal power will not decline even at the height of 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) above sea level,” said Manteqi.
While Manteqi offered no additional details on the Soren ELX, it is known that the Samand LX has a 1.7-liter four-cylinder that has 100 horsepower and can go from 0 to 60 in 11.9 seconds. The top speed for the LX is 115 mpg.
Reducing pollution in Tehran
Tehran, a city of 12 million, has been plagued by pollution problems. Iran Khodro, in a joint venture with Peugeot Renault, is planning to ramp up production of CNG-powered vehicles. The natural gas standard is already in place for buses and taxis, and over 250,000 cars in Iran have been converted to natural gas since 2004, reports the Los Angeles Times.
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Whether natural gas cars are a move to save the environment or a bet against the oil industry, Iran is innovating while the U.S. struggles to keep up.