Audi's says Iran talks spurred by potential for luxury cars

The Audi logo is seen at the entrance of the Audi powerplant in Brussels, Belgium in this September 28, 2015 file picture. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files - RTX1U94L

BERLIN (Reuters) - Audi VOWG_p.DE is gauging its first-ever entry into the Iranian auto market where the German firm sees "growing potential" for luxury cars after world powers lifted international sanctions.

German companies may be able to export goods worth 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion) to Iran as the Islamic Republic is opening up as a market following years of economic isolation, Germany’s DIHK Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

Representatives of the Volkswagen-owned brand are currently in Iran for talks with possible importers to examine the prospects for business, a spokeswoman at Ingolstadt-based Audi said on Monday, without being more specific.

“There is growing potential for luxury cars,” she said, noting Audi has never before done business in Iran. Audi had not yet emerged as an upmarket luxury brand when Iran was shut off from international markets following Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Audi’s rival Daimler said earlier on Monday its trucks division had signed letters of intent with joint venture partners Iran Khodro Diesel and Mammut Group.

A spokesman for luxury peer BMW said any future entry into the Iranian market “will depend on political and economic developments.”

($1 = 0.9187 euros)

Reporting by Andreas Cremer. Additional reporting by Irene Preisinger, editing by David Evans