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Yugo Seeks New Chief, Pledges New Models, Credit Plans For U.S. Market

November 11, 1988

DETROIT (AP) _ The importer of Yugo automobiles is looking for a new chief executive, but has no plans to abandon the U.S. market, company officials say.

William Prior, 44, resigned Monday as chief executive of Global Motors Corp. and president of its Yugo America Inc. subsidiary, which is based in Upper Saddle River, N.J.

Tony Cimnera, Yugo America senior vice president for product development, said Wednesday that the parent company is vigorously looking for a new chief executive officer to replace Prior.

Marcel Kole, chief financial officer, will serve as chief executive in the interim, Cimnera said.

The company said Prior left by mutual agreement.

The Yugoslavian-built cars went on sale in the United States in August 1985. Sales topped 39,100 in the first 10 months of 1987, but dropped to 26,000 in the same period this year.

The decline came despite a new bumper-to-bumper warranty and rebates that knocked as much as $750 off the $3,900 to $4,900 cost of the cars.

Yugo provides no company financing plans, and Cimnera said that has hurt sales.

But he said the company is testing a financing program it hopes to offer nationwide by early next year. ″It should make it possible for anyone who has a gasoline credit card to qualify to buy a Yugo,″ he said.

Yugo plans to upgrade its basic model with a three-speed automatic transmission, Cimnera said.

He said a convertible Yugo will reach the market early next year and a five-door model, already on sale in Europe, also is headed to the U.S. market next year.

Despite reports some of the nation’s 260 Yugo dealers plan to pull out, Cimnera said the company was having no trouble finding dealers to replace those who quit. He would not say how many have dropped the franchises.

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