Upon first glance, the Simurgh bears a striking resemblance to the Batmobile. It’s sleek and black, with a low-slung design and flared wheel arches that give it the appearance of a high-speed supercar.
However, upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that this car stands apart from the many other vehicles showcased at the Doha edition of the Geneva International Motor Show.
The windshield’s sealing appears uneven, and visitors were not permitted to open the doors, as the interior has not yet been completed. But perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the Simurgh is its country of origin: Afghanistan, a nation that fell under Taliban control two years ago.
Named after a mythical Persian bird characterized by a dog-like head, lion-like claws, and the ability to carry off an elephant or whale, the Simurgh was a labor of love that required the efforts of a team of 30 people over five years to construct, according to Mohammad Reza Ahmadi, the CEO of Entop and the project’s chief engineer and designer.
The project faced delays due to the pandemic and the economic turmoil that followed the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s rugged terrain typically demands robust four-wheel drives and SUVs, but Ahmadi aimed to create something unique.
“I want to build something to put my country on the map again,” he expressed during an interview at the Doha show. “The Simurgh represents the heroes and art of Afghanistan. An SUV wouldn’t have the same impact.”
The vehicle, powered by a four-cylinder engine, was introduced in late 2022. It gained widespread attention in January when a Taliban spokesperson shared a video featuring an earlier version of the car, then known as the Mada9. The video depicted a group of former insurgents admiring the vehicle.
This image contrasts starkly with the backdrop of a poverty-stricken nation with one of the world’s worst human-rights records. The Taliban has imposed severe restrictions on women, prohibiting them from pursuing education, employment, visiting public places, utilizing gyms, or traveling long distances without a male escort.
Nevertheless, Ahmadi hopes that the Simurgh will serve as a symbol of a different facet of Afghanistan. He and his team managed to bring the car to Doha, marking its first international appearance, after raising $130,000 through crowdfunding from more than 45,000 individuals.
Entop’s next objective is to secure €30 million ($32 million) in funding to refine the Simurgh and participate in Le Mans, the renowned 24-hour endurance race in France.
“We plan to commence sales after the Simurgh has undergone testing and proven itself at Le Mans,” Ahmadi revealed.