The interview below was conducted by Daniel Itai.
South Africa-based Zimbabwean, Tatenda Mungofa and his colleagues are about to launch a car named Mureza Prim8. Muriza Prim8 is born out of joint venture between Murez and one of the largest Iranian car manufacturer, SAIPA Group. The deal entails Mureza assembling and distributing the Iranian developed Mureza Prim8.
Daniel Itai (DN) managed to sit down with the Mureza team (MT) and they managed to shed some vivid light on how the journey of the Prim8 started and when people can expect the car in stores.
DI: Who is behind the brand Mureza and how did the brand conceptualize?
MT: Mureza is a black-owned African car manufacturer. The company was founded by Mr. Tatenda Mungofa (CEO), Ms. Pheladi Chiloane and Ms. Thulisa Sosibo. Since the birth of the automotive industry, the continent has never had a successful commercial automotive brand so the three endeavored to challenge this status quo.
DI: How has been the journey so far of making Mureza Prim8?
MT: The quest to make an African car is no simple feat! Dynamics of the global auto industry have secluded Africa from the development process of a vehicle. The first step is to identify the initial product and formulate a design that speaks to the target consumer. Secondly, and most importantly, finding the right team to work on this design until it is a physical product ready for production.
This is a very expensive and time-consuming process that is the foundation of the modern auto industry. With the commercialization of additive manufacturing (Virtual reality, simulation and 3D printing), we were lucky to gain support of established suppliers of the key resources to develop our concepts and ensure that the engineering and design were compatible to create a practical vehicle design.
Experienced technical partners and component suppliers were also crucial to our development process. To get our prototype to exhibition stage took 3 years and plenty resources!
DI: When can people expect the car on the market?
MT: Our first product (the Prim8) will start production in the first quarter of 2020. Pre-order sales will be opened in November for those who are keen on getting the first batch off the production line.
DI: Did you partner up with any renowned car brands or it’s all by yourself?
MT: Mureza is an entirely new brand. We have formulated strategic partnerships mainly for technical assistance in product development. This has resulted in the joint development on a platform from an established vehicle producer, SAIPA who bring quality and efficiency to our process. Its common practice for such partnerships in the auto industry as this helps reduce development cost and time and ultimately the consumer price is more affordable.
DI: What is your target market in terms of class, age and countries?
MT: We are focusing mainly on the SADC region as a market. The growing middle class is obviously our target but we are careful not to segregate and our vehicle platform is versatile to accommodate all classes and age groups.
DI: How many cars are you expecting to produce within the next 5 years?
MT: We anticipate to produce 12 000 units of the primate annually for a minimum of 3 years. As we introduce new models, we anticipate to ramp up production to 20 000 units annually in different production facilities in the region. We have an ambitious target to produce 100 000 units in the next 5 years.
DI: In what form do the Mureza come in. Thus, in terms of the engine size, speed, manual, automatic, horsepower, SUVs, sedans or bakkies?
MT: Our Prim8 model comes with different spec levels with 1.5L and 1.3L petrol engines. A turbo powered version will also be available. Automatic and manual transmission will be available. The sport performance will be limited production and a full electric version (EV) is currently under development with our partner. The car will have a 7 inch touch screen infotainment system that has Bluetooth, satellite navigation, phone sync (both apple and android OS), steering controls, adaptive cruise control, automatic transmission, keyless entry and air conditioning. Airbags come standard across the range as occupant safety is of utmost importance to us. There will be different trim and spec levels on the interior and we will allow our customers to customize colors and materials at no extra cost if they pre-order the car.
DI: What will be the average selling price of the Mureza?
MT: The pricing of the Prim8 will range between R120 000 and R200 000.
DI: Has the Government assisted the brand in anyway?
MT: As a private entity we believe in our capability to bring our products to market. Government provides an enabling environment for us to operate and we constantly engage them to align our priorities with those of each country we intend to operate in.
DI: Why the name Mureza?
MT: Mureza means a flag/banner. We aim to be the flagship of the African automotive industry hence the name. As a new brand, we believe in a positive affirmation of our vision in our name.
DI: Have you of late advertised any concept of Mureza to the public and if so how was the general feedback?
MT: We recently exhibited our Prim8 at the Automechanika event in Johannesburg. The reception of the product was very positive and reassuring for a new entry into the market. IgnitionTV did an opinion poll to determine how may people would actually buy the car and 65% of voters said they would.
DI: Have you had any major hiccups in making the Mureza?
MT: Challenges have been many in setting up our business. In product development, most suppliers simply thought we were joking until we went back to them with the finished product. Raising capital was also difficult as most of the financiers dismissed the vision as a far-fetched dream.
DI: How can people get to have a test drive as well as procure the Mureza?
MT: In the next few weeks we will invite the public to our test drive events that will be held all over the region starting in South Africa. To manage the process, a booking system will be created online and interested applicants will be allocated a specific time to test drive the car. A similar method will be implemented for purchasing the Prim8.
We are currently in the process of engaging suitable dealerships that will stock our vehicles and also offer aftermarket support to the consumers. The accredited dealers will be announced before the end of the year.
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