“You have to think outside the box in Iran”
Markus Wäger is regional manager with the Austrian car logistician Hödlmayr. In this role he is also in charge of business in Iran. The company is currently active in imports into the latter country, but it also sees potential for vehicle exports.
Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region are areas that Hödlmayr focuses on. How did this come about?
This focus gives us at Hödlmayr a unique selling point; we’ve additionally carried out a lot of pioneering work in these regions. It’s also always been our corporate philosophy at Hödlmayr to tap new countries and markets.
Your firm has also opened branches in Georgia and Turkey in recent years. What were the considerations behind those moves?
Georgia is the best gateway to the Caucasus region one could possibly imagine; and Turkey is a very attractive market, also thanks to its size.
Geographically speaking, Iran represents the next step. What activities does Hödlmayr run that country?
We’ve had the PTB Group on board as a network partner in Iran since last year, and carry out regular vehicle transports to and from the country.
The ongoing expansion of our joint collaboration effort is the declared objective of the two companies.
The car industry is the second-biggest industry in Iran, making it a dream destination for vehicle logisticians.
True. 1.4 million vehicles are manufactured in the country every year, largely by state players. Our focus currently remains on importing cars from Europe, however.
How does importing into Iran work?
Trade structures, such as general importers, don’t exist; a lot is done on a private basis. Thanks to our contacts with car manufacturers in Europe and our contacts in Iran, we can offer services along the entire transport chain, including customs handling. That’s a huge benefit.
What are the challenges?
Laws can change quickly. If a transport is already on the road, we need creative solutions; you have to think outside the box. For instance, only vehicles worth up to EUR 40,000 are now allowed to be imported, as a result of a recent change in the law.
What are the favourite transport modes?
Truck and intermodal solutions via the Adriatic or Black Seas. We could start with freight trains immediately, but the final section through Turkey still takes too long at the moment. It is a viable option for larger volumes, however.
How many cars do you supply?
Last year the figure came in at 2,000. We’re doing well currently, and expect a significant increase in 2018.
What are the future opportunities in Iran?
The government wants to create attractive framework conditions for foreign vehicle manufacturers and bring them into the country. If this is successful we’ll also want to enter the export segment. If import barriers are removed, then the outlook is very good. The expansion of the southern route of the Silk Road offers great opportunities.
What about your Farsi skills?
I’ve found a tutor now and am starting to learn the language. The aim is to be able to conduct small-talk in Farsi soon, because that’s one way of showing your appreciation for your partners.