New car assembler for Zimbabwe

Mureza Auto Company has announced its intention to assemble and distribute Iranian developed vehicles locally, in partnership with Willowvale Motor Industries.

This will also be through a joint venture with the Société Anonyme Iranienne de Production Automobile as registered in French (SAIPA Group) based in Tehran.

According to a media release from Mureza, the ultimate objective is to design and manufacture vehicles in Africa for African drivers.

The business, which is being backed by funders in the United Arab Emirates, aims to fill the gap between new vehicles and used vehicles currently sold in African countries, according to its chief executive officer Tatenda Mungofa.

“We propose to fill this gap with new models priced not much above the cost of a used import, which are heavily taxed in certain markets,” Mungofa said in a statement.

“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,” Mungofa says.

“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 SADC countries that we are targeting as a first step for our new company.”

The company has an ambitious product plan starting with a rebadged SAIPA Quick crossover/hatchback that will make its debut during Automechanika Johannesburg at the Expo Centre, Nasrec. A half-tonne pick-up, a sedan and high-riding mini-SUV off the same X100 platform as used by the Quick is set to follow.

There are also plans to rebadge the SAIPA Quick,to Prim8 (pronounced Primate).

The Prim8 features a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine, producing 87 kW. As one would expect from a hatchback of its size, the Prim8 is front-wheel drive.

Partnership with Willowvale

The Prim8, according to Mureza will initially be assembled from 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.