HOST: Another feature of the auto show was Nissan’s custom-designed New York yellow taxi cab, which will roll out next year.
Nissan is calling the boxy, snub-nosed vehicle the Taxi of the Future. The automaker landed a contract worth up to one billion dollars to replace all thirteen thousand of the city’s cabs.
But Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is backing a campaign targeting Nissan. That’s because it’s on a list of automakers doing business with or in Iran. Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports.
LLOPIS-JEPSEN: The campaign is called Iran Watch List and it’s a joint effort by de Blasio and two advocacy groups: United Against Nuclear Iran and Iran180.
In a statement, de Blasio said Nissan and 11 other carmakers indirectly support Iran’s military.
He says the city’s safety “depends on bringing every bit of pressure we can muster against Iran’s regime.”
Iran 180 director Chris Devito says it’s key to engage ordinary Americans on the issue of Iran — and carmakers are a way to do that.
DEVITO: Our effort isn’t to get the city to change its decision. It’s to get Nissan to change its relationship with Iran.
LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Nissan was not immediately available for comment.
But Devito says Nissan has ties to Pars Khodro, an Iranian carmaker he says is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The corps oversees domestic weapons production in Iran. It also arrests dissidents, including hundreds of pro-democracy activists.
Devito thinks New Yorkers will want to know all this.
DEVITO: They understand that money is fungible and that money that is going to Nissan for this in some sense contributes to the relationship they hold with the regime in Tehran.
LLOPIS-JEPSEN: The US and the United Nations currently have economic sanctions against Iran but many automakers do not fall under those restrictions.
That’s because the sanctions normally cover the finance and energy sectors, but not automobiles.
Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova is an Iran specialist at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. She is not sure that sanctions against carmakers would do any good.
MUKHATZHANOVA: Some people have this incentive maybe that hurting the government more and more would make people in Iran raise up and launch a revolution. Which I think is dangerous, wishful thinking.
LLOPIS-JEPSEN: It’s not clear how much or if Iranian carmaker Pars Khodro will benefit from Nissan’s New York City business.
But de Blasio says the point of Iran Watch List is to make sure that companies doing business in Iran feel pressure from customers to stop.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Columbia Radio News.