The rapid pace of urbanization has led to the rise in demand for cars throughout Africa. Presently, South Africa has the biggest market for new cars in Africa and Volkswagen, Toyota and Ford are some of the most popular brands. The continent has not seen the rise of its own commercial automotive brand so far and with their upcoming model, the new budget car brand Mureza hopes to change that scenario.
Founded by Mr. Tatenda Mungofa (CEO), Ms. Pheladi Chiloane and Ms. Thulisa Sosibo, the Mureza Auto Company aims to manufacture vehicles in Africa for African drivers. The company was launched in a joint venture with the SAIPA Group of Iran. The new model, named Prim8, is expected to be launched in the second half of 2020.
The company is eyeing a production rate of 12000 units for the upcoming 3 years, after which it may get increased to around 20000 units annually. The manufacturing plant in Rosslyn Business Park outside Pretoria is being set up to provide employment opportunities to almost 1000 people.
In the later phases, the operations will also expand to the Willowvale assembly plant in Zimbabwe and in the former Hyundai plant in Botswana. The Prim8 was recently exhibited at the Automechanika event in Johannesburg and received a lot of positive response.
In a recent interview, Mungofa mentioned that, “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.” He also mentioned that around 40% of the Prim8’s components are locally sourced and the percentage is set to go up in near future.
The Prim8 crossover comes in two variants offering 1.5-litre and 1.3 litre petrol engines that are driven by a 5-speed manual or a CVT transmission system. The vehicle comes with an impressive array of features including a 7 inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, cruise control, parking sensors, audio system, air conditioning, four airbags, electronic stability control and ABS. The pricing will be aggressive, ranging from R180 000 to R200 000 depending on the variant.
The car will be sold mainly through used vehicle outlets and online platforms and the company is also engaged to establish suitable dealerships. Mureza will also start offering test drive events for the Prim8 in South Africa within the next few months.
At present the most popular cars in the continent are the pick-up trucks; especially in countries where tourism is important and also in areas that have poor road infrastructure. For this segment and others, Mureza has plans to build a half-ton pick-up, a high-riding mini-SUV and also a sedan in future. The concepts of an all-electric model is also being developed.
“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” said Mungofa.