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GM cranks up Buick Encore output to meet strong demand

by Nat Shirley

The Encore is on pace to more than double the yearly sales volume forecast by some analysts.

General Motors has moved to increase Buick Encore production after initial demand caught the automaker by surprise, leaving many dealers without an adequate supply of the small crossover for months.

Encore sales took off soon after the crossover launched in January, and volume through the first seven months of the year - 15,428 units - puts it on pace to significantly exceed analysts' forecasts for 2013.

However, sales have been hampered by limited inventory as GM struggles to keep up with the higher than anticipated demand for the Encore as well as its European-market Opel Mokka sibling, which has been a for GM's struggling Opel brand. The crossovers are built in the same facilities in South Korea, although GM recently began additional production of the Mokka in Spain.

"[The Encore] was absolutely red hot when it first came out," Chris Haydocy, dealer principal at Haydocy Buick- GMC, Automotive News. "Then there was this lag that kind of took the wind out of the sails. We're finally getting adequate supply for the first time in three or four months."

Along with low production levels, the shortage has been due in part to some shipments of the Encore being held at a New Jersey port for several weeks in May while awaiting a retrofit. Buick has declined to describe the retrofit, but it may be related to a over a steering wheel that can come loose or even fall off.

Market response to the Encore - which boasts a blend of luxury content, subcompact sizing and mainstream compact CUV pricing - bodes well for the future of the budding small premium crossover segment, which is set to rapidly expand in coming years with new entries from Cadillac, Lincoln, Audi and Lexus.

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