SOUTH AFRICA – Mureza, a start-up car company based in South Africa is set to design and build affordable cars in Africa, for African drivers.

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) 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.

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.

According to Mureza, the new compact crossover hatch comes in fully equipped form. 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 there is 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.

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.