The first car from Mureza is a compact crossover that will cost between R180,000 and R200,000 when it goes on sale in early December.
The first car from Mureza is a compact crossover that will cost between R180,000 and R200,000 when it goes on sale in early December.
Image: Supplied

A new budget car brand called Mureza is to make its South African debut at the Automechanika trade show at Nasrec’s Expo Centre this week.

Isando-based Mureza Auto Company will unveil its first model, a hatchback called the Prim8 (pronounced Primate, a name the company might want to rethink). Powered by a 1.5l petrol engine, the car will have a target price of between R180,000 and R200,000 and will be sold with a three-year warranty.

Mureza also plans a half-ton pick-up, a sedan and high-riding mini-SUV off the Prim8's X100 platform, and the local development of a range of one-ton pick-ups and a panel van under the Tusker model name.

The Prim8 will initially be assembled from semi knock-down kits in Rosslyn, outside Pretoria, and later at the Willowvale assembly plant in Zimbabwe and in the former Hyundai plant in Botswana.

Despite its keen pricing, the range-topping version of the Prim8 crossover is to have a comprehensive specification list that includes cruise control, parking sensors, navigation, a reversing camera, four airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes and tyre pressure monitoring, among other features.

WE ARE ALSO LOOKING FOR LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE VARIOUS FACETS OF OUR BUSINESS

Mureza Auto Company is funded by backers in the UAE and has a joint venture with the Iran-based SAIPA Group for platform-sharing and the supply of components. The company plans  to eventually design and manufacture vehicles locally.

The initial local content target is 40% with significant increases in the short to medium term, according to Mureza CEO Tatenda Mungofa from Zimbabwe, part of a group of Africans from various countries who are driving the project.

He says Mureza models will be sold through used-vehicle outlets supported by online selling, instead of setting up new-car franchised dealerships.

"SA 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," said Mungofa.

"We are looking at co-operating with smaller component suppliers who are not yet able to handle big production runs and our business will help them grow their businesses.

MUREZA MEANS ‘FLAG’ AND WE WANT TO BE THE FLAG WAVERS FOR AN INDIGENOUS AFRICAN MOTOR INDUSTRY

"We are also looking for local entrepreneurs to get involved with the various facets of our business to give it a true African flavour."

He is looking to create up to 1,000 jobs at the Rosslyn plant with production to grow from 10 to 35 cars a day. 

"Mureza means ‘flag’ and 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," said Mungofa.

Thulisa Sosibo, co-founder of the company, says the Prime8 will go on sale here in the first week of December. She would not disclose the investment value of the new venture.

This year’s Automechanika show runs until September 21, and is co-located with the Futuroad Expo of commercial vehicles and the Scalex logistics expo.

The show will display products and services of more than 600 local and international exhibitors from 27 countries. There will be a number of new trucks launched, including a new brand called Maz, a truck and machinery manufacturer from Belarus. 

Organised by Messe Frankfurt, the trade fair runs from 9am to 4.30pm between Wednesday and Friday, and from 9am to 2pm on Saturday. Visitors can obtain a free pass at www.automechanika.co.za.