A new player in the African motoring industry, Mureza, is hoping to make it big in South Africa. The company, which made its local debut last month at Automechanika Johannesburg, showcased its first model, the Prim8.
Mureza – which prides itself as a black-owned car manufacturing company that “designs and manufactures cars in Africa for Africans” – is the brainchild of Tatenda Mungofa (31), the CEO of the company.
He says that when he was seven years old he stumbled on a car magazine that sparked his interest in car design. “There were always sketches of concept vehicles on pages 5 to 7 which would showcase the ‘future cars’. As exciting as it was to see what the industry would produce, there were not any African concepts for many years,” Mungofa said.
Designing cars for Africa became a mission that simply had to be done by Africans for Africans
Mungofa said this is what sparked his idea of designing cars for Africans.
“Designing cars for Africa became a mission that simply had to be done by Africans for Africans. That is a passion which drives the entire team,” Mungofa said.
Mungofa co-founded the company with Thulisa Sosibo and Pheladi Chiloane and registered it in South Africa in 2016.
Together they set out to manufacture cars that are focused on the daily transportation requirements for the African continent.
To do that, Mungofa said they looked for partnerships with companies that would help make their designs a reality.
“We had to engage external support to bring the needed quality and expertise to ensure that our products would be competitive against the existing peers.
“This is where the Société anonyme iranienne de production automobile [Saipa] comes in as a technical partner with vast experience of more than 50 years in the manufacturing of cars,” Mungofa said.
Saipa is an automaker headquartered in Tehran, Iran, which got its start in 1965 assembling Citroëns under licence for the Iranian market.
Mungofa said the partnership with Saipa would help Mureza to lower production costs and ultimately make the vehicles more affordable for the consumer.
The company’s first offering, the Prim8 – pronounced primate – is based on a new platform that was developed by Saipa called the X200. Initially cars will be assembled at the Automotive Supplier Park in Rosslyn, Pretoria. The company is working on getting production set up at the Willowvale assembly plant in Zimbabwe and at the former Hyundai plant in Botswana.
It is competitively priced with the top of the range costing about R180 000 to R200 000. The pricing of the Prim8 pits against cars such as the Ford Figo and Peugeot 108.
Those cars are smaller than the Prim8, making it more appealing.
The Prim8 features
- 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Bluetooth,
- satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto,
- steering controls, adaptive cruise control, automatic transmission,
- keyless entry and air conditioning.
Different trim and spec levels in the interior will be available for customers and they can customise colours and materials at no extra cost if they pre-order the car.
Mungofa said safety was the priority.
“Four airbags come standard. Our vehicle has been benchmarked to international OEM [original equipment manufacturer] standards and is undergoing homologation for local standards certification. We are confident this will be scored above average against its segment competitor.”
The company is hoping that the aggressive pricing will help to get people to look at the car but they are want people to “experience” the Prim8.
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“There are events which will be announced for the market to engage with the product,” Mungofa said. The company will launch the Prim8 next month and production is expected to start early next year.
The company is working on introducing a half-ton bakkie, with production expected in the second quarter of 2020, as well as a mini SUV.