Although based in South Africa, the newly created Mureza marque, its name meaning flag, aims to expand production beyond its plant located in the Rosslyn business park outside Pretoria, to the Willowvale Assembly Plant in Zimbabwe and later the former Hyundai Plant near Gaborone in Botswana.
A joint venture between the SAIPA Group that have been manufacturing cars in Iran since 1965 with funding coming from the United Arab Emirates, Mureza will showcase the prototype Prim8 at Automechanika that has been converted from left to right-hand-drive.
Built from a semi-knocked-down kit (SKD), the Prim8 is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine that produces 87 kW, which is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT. Production will reportedly start early next year with projected pricing from R180 000 to R200 000.
According to Mureza, the “comprehensive” list of equipment, on the flagship models, includes a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and satellite navigation, rear parking sensors plus a reverse camera, Electronic Stability Control, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, four airbags, cruise control, keyless entry, ABS and a tyre pressure monitor.
In a statement, Tatenda Mungofa, one of the drivers behind the project, said a 40% local content target has been earmarked, with the aim of upping this over the medium term.
“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,” he said.
“Here in South Africa we are also looking to sell our various Mureza models through used vehicle outlets instead of setting up new car franchised dealerships. Online selling will be important for us too. South Africa is seen as the hub of the automotive business in Africa and it is for this reason that we are using this country as our headquarters and first assembly plant”.
At a later stage, Mureza will expand its line-up of models to include a sedan, a mini crossover, a panel van and a half-ton pick-up, all based on the Prim8’s X100 platform, with an all-electric model currently being developed.
“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,” Mungofa continued.
“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”.
He also stated that, “I have been involved in selling used imports in Africa for the past 10 years and I know that Africans want to own their vehicles, not share them. Owning a vehicle is very much a demonstration of success and we want to build on this culture”.
Automechanika Johannesburg will run until 21 September at the Nasrec Expo Centre with the prototype Prim8 being exhibited at stand 6K4G in Hall 6.