Mureza, a new African car brand, recently debuted in Johannesburg. The much-awaited Mureza initially formed a joint venture with the SAIPA Group in Iran for platform-sharing as well as the supply of some of the other major components, but the brand’s ultimate objective is to totally design and manufacture vehicles in Africa for African drivers.
The first model, the Prim8 (pronounced Primate), is a crossover/hatchback which will be assembled initially from semi-knockdown (SKD) kits in the Automotive Supplier Park in Rosslyn, South Africa, and later at the Willowvale assembly plant in Zimbabwe and in the ex-Hyundai plant in Botswana. The new business is being backed by funders in the United Arab Emirates.
The prototype Prim8 was displayed at a recent Johannesburg motor show which took place at the Nasrec Expo Centre. The vehicles have been converted from left-hand to right-hand drive locally, but the future SKD and completely knockdown (CKD) kits will be set up for right-hand drive. A three-year warranty will cover the car.
The Prim8 uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 87kW and drives the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or CVT transmission. The target is to offer the fully equipped top model at between N$180 000 and N$200 000.
The comprehensive specification of the top model includes keyless entry, 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, satnav, reversing camera, cruise control, parking sensors, audio system, air conditioning, power-adjustable driver’s seat, four airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes and tyre pressure monitoring.
The initial local content target is 40 percent with significant increases in the short to medium-term, according to Tatenda Mungofa, one of a group of Africans from various countries who are driving this ambitious project.
Mungofa explains that there is a void between the new vehicles and used vehicles currently sold in African countries and says this is the gap his team proposes to fill with new models priced not much above the cost of a used import, which are heavily taxed in certain markets.
“We will also engage with the people selling used imports to retail our new models and will assist them in setting up service facilities where this is viable, or else we will appoint independent servicing outlets in the various SADEC countries that we are targeting as a first step for our new company,” explained Mungofa.
The company intends to sell the various Mureza models through used vehicle outlets instead of setting up new car franchised dealerships. Online selling will also be important.
“We are looking at cooperating with smaller component suppliers who not yet able to handle big production runs and our business will help them grow their businesses. We are also looking for local entrepreneurs to get involved with the various facets of our business to give it a true African flavour.”
“We see our venture as revitalising the motor industry in several African countries and providing much-needed job opportunities. For instance, we are looking to building up employment at Rosslyn to 1 000 people, with a lot of focus on manual work, as we grow production from 10 to 35 units a day,” said Mungofa.
“The word Mureza means Flag and we want to be the flag wavers for an indigenous African motor industry. We want to be like Henry Ford who replaced horses with affordable cars. In our case it will be replacing imported used cars with affordable cars made in Africa”, commented Mungofa.