Johannesburg - To design and build affordable cars in Africa, for African drivers - that’s the aim of a new car company called Mureza.

The start-up is based in South Africa, but describes itself as an African car company as the project is being driven by a group of Africans from various countries. The initial products will be born from a joint venture with Iran’s second biggest car company, the SAIPA Group, which will supply platforms and components - although in the long run the company will strive for product independence.

The first model out the starting blocks will be a crossover hatchback, called the Prim8 (which is pronounced Primate - something they might want to rethink) and South Africans will be able to see it in prototype form as early as this week, as it will be on display at the Automechanika Expo at Nasrec in Joburg from September 18 to 21. Interestingly enough, the hatch is also set to be spawn a half-tonne bakkie, sedan and compact SUV at some point in the future, while a one-tonne bakkie range is also said to be in the works.

The Prim8 will initially be assembled in SKD kit form at a facility in Rosslyn, as well as at the Willowvale plant in Zimbabwe and in the ex-Hyundai plant in Botswana. CKD production is likely to commence at a later stage.

What else do we know about the Prim8?

According to Mureza, the new compact crossover hatch will cost between R180 000 and R200 000 in fully equipped form, and by that they mean it will come with features like a 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system with satnav, keyless entry, cruise control, power-adjustable driver’s seat, four airbags, ESP stability control, ABS and tyre pressure monitoring.

Under the bonnet you’ll find a 1.5-litre petrol engine that produces 87kW, and it can be mated to either a five-speed manual or CVT transmission.

The car will also be covered by a three-year warranty.

One of the leaders driving the project, Tatenda Mungofa, explains that the brand aims to fill the void between the traditional new vehicles and the used imports that are sold throughout much of Africa (although not in South Africa), with a new model that’s not priced too far above the latter.

“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,” Mungofa 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,” he added.

Mungofa also stated that the company would look at cooperating with smaller component suppliers who are not yet able to handle big production runs, with a view to helping them grow their businesses.

The Mureza Auto Company intends to commence production at its first plant in Rosslyn in early 2020, where it aims to build up to around 1000 employees, with a focus on manual work, as it grows production from 10 to 35 cars a day.

IOL Motoring