Production 1997 (prototype only) Assembly :Nigeria
In 1997, a brilliant Electrical Engineer and Lecturer at the Federal polytechnic Nekede, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu designed and developed the Izuogu Z-600, the first African indigenous manufactured car.
The car was described by the BBC as ‘ the African dream machine’ as 90% of its parts were sourced locally .
At a projected sales cost of 2000 dollars, it would have taken the world by storm and become the cheapest and most affordable car on earth.
With mass production planned under Izuogu Motors plant in Naze owerri, the prospects of an industrial revolution in Igbo land and Nigeria, was in the making.
recommending that some of the bumps on the body of the car be smoothened. It is worthy to note that this was five years before India built their first car known as the Indi.
At a well organized unveiling ceremony which had General Abacha represented by Oladipo Diya, over 20 foreign ambassadors and thousands of people in attendance, the federal government promised a grant of 235 million naira to Dr.Izuogu.
An excited Dr Izuogu is still waiting for that grant till today. No dime was released to him.
In 2006, the government of South Africa invited Dr. Izuogu to do a presentation about the car in the presence of several world class engineers . Being impressed with his presentation, they invited him to come and set up a plant in South Africa and begin the production of the car.
Dr Izuogu reluctantly agreed, though he wasn’t happy that the benefits of employment generation will be lost on the locals of Naze and the Nigerian human resources environment .
On Saturday the 11th of March 2006, at about 2.00 a.m, a total of about 12 heavily armed men broke into Dr. Izogu’s factory in Naze and carted away various machines and tools including the design history notebook of Z-600, the design file Z-MASS, containing the design history for mass production of Z-600 car, and the moulds for various parts of the car.
This was a big setback for the project. Since then not much is known on the status of the car.
The Izuogu Z-600 prototype was the first indigenous Nigerian car, and the first automobile of indigenous all-African technology.
It was the brainchild of engineer Ezekiel Izuogu. Launched in 1997, the car caused a stir in the Nigerian media, and was touted by the then Nigerian chief of Staff General Oladipo Diya.
The prototype was equipped with a self made 1.8L four cylinder engine that got 18mpg and allowed the car to achieve a top speed of 140 km/h (86 mph). Front Wheel Drive (FWD) was chosen over Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) because a transmission tunnel, which RWD would require, would be more expensive to fabricate. 90% of the car’s components were made locally.
The design of the car was very utilitarian resembling a Renault 4 with its upright stance and a front end that vaguely resembles the locally assembled Peugeot 504.
Mass production was planned under Izuogu motors located in Naze, Imo state, but too many financial and political hurdles prevented the car from proceeding past the prototype stage.
In 2005 interest from other African countries arose about the Z-600 and Dr. Izuogu was invited to South Africa to give a speech on science and technology. The South African government showed keen interest in the car and wanted Izuogu to build it in South Africa.