Iran's president is calling for foreign partnerships to boost the country's car industry and says the sector must be privatized to improve its competitiveness.

President Hassan Rouhani told a car industry conference in a nationally broadcast speech on Tuesday that partnerships with international carmakers offer a shortcut to improving the industry's technology and safety.

Iran's 50-year-old car industry produces about 900,000 cars annually. The country hopes to increase the number to 3 million by 2025.

France's Peugeot-Citroen last month announced a joint venture with automaker Iran Khodro to make 200,000 cars a year outside Tehran. The French carmaker was heavily involved in Iran's auto industry before nuclear-related sanctions were imposed.

In Iran, a country of 80 million people, road accidents annually claim nearly 17,000 lives, which many blame on safety.