Thursday, November 20, 2008

A carmaker on the edge, Yugo Quits.

Remember the Yugo? They're finally out of business. Hat tip to "Nova Scotia Scott."

"The Yugo, the car everyone -- or almost everyone -- loved to hate, is no more.

The last one has rolled of the production line at the Zastava factory in the Serbian town of Kragujevac.

'Voted in an American survey as the worst car of the Millennium, the little subcompact was nevertheless well loved by motorists in the old Yugoslavia, where it represented a high point of industrial production in the communist state.

But now, Fiat is the new buzz word in Kragujevac. The Italian carmaker has taken over the Zastava plant and intends to assemble its compact Punto model there, to be marketed in Eastern Europe as a "Zastava."

There is also the possibility that General Motors' Opel subsidiary will produce a model there.

There is a certain poetic irony in Fiat displacing the Yugo, as the Turin-based company from the start was always the parent of Yugo designs.' "

The reason Yugo made an impression?

"Yugo's true moment of fame -- or rather notoriety -- came in 1986, when an American businessman decided to introduce it to the giant North American market. Priced at a sensational $3,990, it cost half as much as the next cheapest vehicle, and aroused a storm of interest."

Not exactly, Yugo had displaced Hyundai as the most affordable vehicle, in terms of price in the USA.
Wikipedia - "The Excel was introduced as a replacement for the Hyundai Pony. In the United States it was the company's first and only model, but thanks to a price of US $4,995 and being voted 'Best Product #10' by Fortune magazine, it set records for a first-year import by selling 168,882 units, helping push the company's cumulative production past one million by 1986."

The Yugo indeed was cheaper, but it wasn't better. After all of that, there is the Tata Nano, which I wrote about in another vein earlier this year.

The UK Times - "It is 3 metres long, seats four comfortably or five at a squeeze, does 65mph and aims to revolutionise travel for millions. The 'People’s Car' is also the cheapest in the world at 100,000 rupees (£1,300) – the same price as the DVD player in a Lexus."

That's about $2000 US, at least when the article was written in January of this year. For all I know with the monetary volatility of recent months, it could be even less than that now.

Among our various follies as a nation, we allow people to buy and ride motorcycles, which are not enclosed and differ pretty much from a Tata Nano, by having half the number of wheels and not being enclosed. A new Harley costs about $20,000 US.

A new Nano, a tenth of that. About the cost of union retirement obligations, per car, for the Big Three.

We're in a free market economy, right? Why aren't Nanos available here? I forget.

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Anonymous said...

I once owned a Yugo. I bought it new. It was very reliable transportation for a single parent of two on a very limited budget and no help from the welfare office.

The Pharisee said...

I still see the occasional yugo on the street, running.