A Major Leap for Africa as First Black-Owned Car Building Company Begins Sales in SA

The Mureza Auto Company, which is registered in both Zimbabwe and South Africa and is Southern Africa’s first black-owned car manufacturer, will deliver the first batch of 100 Prim8 badged (pronounced primate) vehicles next week. The Prim8 vehicles can be pre-ordered and reserved for $3000 (about R44 000) on the Mureza website for delivery in South Africa or Zimbabwe, according to a press release from the company, which is registered under Mureza Holdings.

Mureza Auto made its debut two years ago at Automechanika Johannesburg, when it launched a joint venture with the Iranian SAIPA Group (Société Anonyme Iranienne de Production Automobile, as registered in French). The company, backed by funders in the United Arab Emirates and other investors, has recently been granted a licence to build and distribute its Prim8 models, based on the SAIPA Quick, in South Africa. It is currently assembled from SKD kits in the Automotive Supplier Park in Rosslyn, Pretoria.

Mureza CEO Tatenda Mungofa described the move as “a huge milestone in our aim to become Africa’s leading automobile maker” in a statement dated June 21. The wait for the African market is almost over. We’re working quietly behind the scenes to ensure that Africa gets high-quality, low-cost vehicles.

The SAIPA Quick was first introduced in Iran in March 2017, and it is currently being sold in India. The tiny crossover is built on the X200 platform, which was originally designed for the SAIPA Tiba and Saina models and has architecture from the third-generation Kia Rio.

Mureza states the Prim8 is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 87kW. However, it seems the correct figure for the 1 503cc M15-powerplant (as indicated for the Quick) is 65kW, with maximum torque of 128Nm at 4 000rpm, driving the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or a CVT.

The comprehensive specification of the top model includes keyless entry, seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, satnav, reversing camera, cruise control, parking sensors, audio system, air conditioning, power-adjustable driver’s seat, four airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes and tyre pressure monitoring.

The Prim8 line-up will be available in two variants, with a suggested retail price of R196 000 in South Africa and $13 500 in Zimbabwe. Other models in development include the T1 bakkie, which is inspired by Prime8, as well as the Athlete and Tusker models, which will be released next year.