It is evident that the bilateral relationship between Iran and Zimbabwe is growing. This follows a recent announcement that Mureza Auto Company in partnership with Willowvale Motors and Iran’s SAIPA Group has joined hands in what looks to be an interesting project. They intend to work together to assemble and distribute Iranian developed vehicles in Africa. They essentially want to bridge the gap between new and used cars. SAIPA is an automaker which was started in 1965 and has its headquarters in Iran’s capital Tehran. By the way, in the Middle East, Iran dominates the motor market. Mureza Auto Company is a South African car maker which on the 18th of this month announced its plans to work with SAIPA to do car assemblies in southern Africa.

Background To The Joint Venture And Intended Plans

SAIPA once attended an auto event in SA in 2014. Mureza developed a keen interest in SAIPA owing to the relatively low prices of its products. Mureza launched its new car model in Johannesburg from the 18th to the 21st earlier on this month. It showcased it during the Automechanika Johannesburg which was an event that was held at the Nasrec centre during those 4 days. The joint venture between Mureza and SAIPA is to use the Mureza platform whilst SAIPA provides other key components for the assembly process. Despite this Mureza does have long terms plans where they will be designing and manufacturing vehicles for the African context.

They are headquartering their company in SA owing to the country’s state as a hotspot for automotive activities on the continent. Once the car assembly is up and running Mureza intends to proceed to Willowvale Motors’ assembly plant locally. After that, they will move to a former Hyundai assembly plant in neighbouring Botswana. About 4 out of every 10 components of the Prim8 can be sourced locally but Mureza plans to spike that number in a short period. In SA they are planning to leverage on used car dealerships as a means to sell their vehicles as opposed to starting from scratch. They have also highlighted that they intend to use online selling significantly. The bankrolling of the whole project will also involve some investors from Dubai.

A Brief Look At The New Car Model

The new car model they showcased during the Nasrec event is called the Prim8. The model has been converted from left to right-hand drive to suit the local SA drivers. During the formative stages, Mureza highlighted that the Prim8 will be put together using semi-knocked kits from a supplier in Gauteng. The Prim8 is a 1.5-litre petrol engine vehicle with 87kW and has a 5-speed manual transmission or CVT transmission. The projected price for the completed model will range from R180 000 and R200 000 (i.e. for the SA market). Some of the features of the top-of-the-range model will be keyless entry, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and satnav amongst others.

So what is left is to see how the project will go ahead especially considering the hurdles that stifle business activity in Zimbabwe. If this goes through this will be a most welcome development that will provide people with the opportunity to buy locally assembled vehicles. After all, the working principle behind the project is to produce vehicles suitable for the local environment so that would be a good thing. Another interesting thing to note is that the USA is throwing fresh sanctions on Iran at the moment. So we will also wait to see if that will not have a bearing on the success of this project.