The two dominant Iranian automakers, Iran Khodro and SAIPA, are "highly interested in joint ventures" with foreign automakers, said Stephanie Vigier, the principal Middle East analyst at IHS in Paris.
"They want to attract technology. They want to be able to make all the components in Iran and want to produce cars fully. They want to export cars to other countries," she said.
Iran Khodro and SAIPA have partnerships with Renault, Peugeot, Kia, China's Chery and a few other foreign manufacturers. But sanctions, especially the tighter restrictions imposed in the last four years, have hit the industry hard.
Iran produced 1 million light vehicles in 2014, according to the OICA, an organization of global auto manufacturers. But that is down from down from 1.65 million in 2011, when Iran ranked as the world's 13th largest auto producer. Many of the vehicles made now are built from complete knockdown kits.
Analysts see potential in Iran because of its size and great pent-up demand. It has 77 million people -- slightly more than Turkey and nearly as many as Germany. Most do not own cars now, and a sizable younger generation will soon reach car-buying age. Some analysts estimate half of the cars on the road are more than 20 years old.
Michel Jacinto, another IHS analyst, said the cars that roll out of Iranian plants now are roughly the equivalent of what appeared on U.S. or European roads 10 to 20 years ago. One of Iran Khodro's models is the Peugeot 206, based on an old platform from its French partner.
Besides desiring partners who can provide modern safety and environmental components, Iranian automakers also are eager to have help adding infotainment technology and producing a wider range of vehicles, such as microvans, four-wheel-drive vehicles and family sedans, Jacinto said.
Sanctions imposed in 2011 and 2012 restricted automotive technology exports to Iran, and banking measures made it virtually impossible for Iranian companies to pay their partners.
IHS' Vigier noted even the recent modest relaxing of economic measures has had an effect. In March, Peugeot renewed its 50-50 partnership with Iran Khodro, and will work to replace the 206 and other older models that were being produced.
"If there's a nuclear agreement, there will more and more development of the auto industry," she said.