An Iranian automaker has just released what they claim to be the most powerful natural gas engine ever built for a car. If true, the turbo charged engine generates 150 hp.

Middle Eastern automaker Iran Khodro has just introduced the most powerful natural gas engine ever brought to market. It was unveiled as the engine of choice in the brand new Samand Soren ELX four-door. Both took a bow in Tehran over the weekend.

The automaker claims the turbo-charged engine generates 150 hp. If true, that's 37 more than the Honda Civic GX, which also runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). Unfortunately, the only engine spec released to the public is the horsepower rating. Displacement is unknown, and the company did not say how many cylinders the engine has. All Iran Khodro CEO Manouchehr Manteqi would say is that "its nominal power will not decline even at the height of 2,000 meters [6,561 feet] above sea level." This will be an important selling point, as Tehran is roughly a mile above sea level.

Founded in the early '60s, Iran Khodro is based in Tehran. It is only fitting that a version of "Iran's National Car" should get a CNG engine. Despite having large oil reserves, Iran is no stranger to alternative fuel. Heavily polluted Tehran has begun to use natural gas buses and fleet vehicles, while forcing taxis to use CNG. Old cars are being taken out of service there. Over 250,000 cars have been converted to run on CNG in that country.

The company has a technology sharing relationship with PSA Peugeot Citroën, which results in the Iran Khodro-produced Peugeot 206, 405, Pars, RD, and 407. Their Samand series of cars shares a platform with the Peugeot 405. At the introduction, the parent company, partially owned by the Iranian government, noted the car's production is "the intellectual property of the Islamic Republic of Iran." This point was hammered home by the giant poster of the Ayatollah overlooking the car.

Be part of something big