Proton LogoIranian automotive company SAIPA and Proton has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enter a strategic partnership that would result in the two companies collaborating in areas of R&D, marketing, sales, JV investments, and supply networks.

The first project will be an inexpensive small sedan that will replace the SAIPA Pride (SAIPA Saba, SAIBA Nasim), a rebadged version of the ancient 1987 Kia Pride which was in turn a rebadged version of the Ford Festiva, or Mazda 121. That generation of the Kia Pride has since been replaced by the Kia Rio.

The new SAIPA compact will likely be based on an existing Proton model or platform similiar to how Chinese automaker Youngman is using the Proton GEN2 for its Europestar RCR. Like China, Iran is a left hand drive market.

It’s interesting to note that one of SAIPA’s subsidiaries (51% owned) Pars Khodro began manufacturing the Dacia Logan in Iran in 2006.