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February 2, 2015

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General Motors is sharply boosting Buick Encore production for the U.S., a bet that the petite crossover will continue to sell big despite a slew of coming rivals. GM has expanded production capacity to lift U.S. Encore supply by roughly 50 percent, diverting more of them from assembly plants across three continents.

The Encore's success is validation of a gamble by GM two years ago to be among the first automakers to introduce a subcompact crossover to the U.S. But juicing production represents another big bet as several competitors prepare to join the segment, including the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Jeep Renegade, along with the Chevrolet Trax from Buick's sibling brand.

Aldred wants to capitalize on the Encore's sizable head start. He expects the Encore to emerge as Buick's top-selling nameplate this year, even after sales surged 53 percent last year to 48,892, putting it at No. 3 in the lineup behind the Enclave large crossover (62,300) and the LaCrosse sedan (51,468).

"I've stuck my neck out to get more Encores, because if you haven't got them, you're not going to sell them," Aldred said.

Encore sales have blown past industry expectations and surprised GM, which launched it in early 2013. Back then, IHS Automotive predicted sales of nearly 25,000 for 2015 -- about half of last year's tally.

GM makes the Encore and its sibling, the Opel Mokka, at assembly plants in Mexico, Korea and Spain. U.S. dealers say that makes it tricky to secure a steady supply of them. There's typically a four-month lag from the time dealerships order Encores to when they're delivered, roughly double that of a U.S.-built car, dealers say.

Keith Hudson, dealer principal at Jim Hudson Buick-GMC-Cadillac in Columbia, S.C., says the Encore tends to draw traditional import buyers. He says the sweet spot is people ages 45 to 65, often downsizing empty nesters.

"We could sell more if we received more," Hudson says. "People love the vehicle."

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Buick is considering a more powerful engine option for the Encore as it looks to extend the small crossover's sales success, the brand's top executive says.

The Encore, launched two years ago, comes only with a turbocharged 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 138 hp. "I'd be lying if I said we're not evaluating that," Duncan Aldred, U.S. vice president of Buick-GMC, said in an interview.

Aldred didn't mention engine possibilities. On the Opel Mokka in Europe, a rebadged Encore, GM offers a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and a new, aluminum 1.6-liter turbodiesel, in addition to the base 1.4-liter.

Adding a more powerful engine could drive incremental sales and help Buick keep pace with an influx of competitors. Buick sold 48,892 Encores in 2014, making the vehicle the brand's No. 3 seller behind the Enclave large crossover and the LaCrosse large sedan.

"I'm looking to grow volumes, and we're always looking at customer feedback for what changes we need to make," Aldred said. "But there's always a trade-off between cost and benefit."
 

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Good news for Buick and Chevrolet. The Encore and Trax are sure to continue their streak of selling well this year.

Interesting how GM has filled the CUV/SUV pipeline at Chevy and Buick while leaving the more (potentially) profitable sales of same lacking at GMC and Cadillac. Seems product from Jeep, Audi and BMW are enjoying the market sweet spot (profit wise) right now. BMW is even working on an X7 and Audi, an Q8.

GM really has some catching up to do.
 

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138 hp might be adequate in a cruze but for a vehicle with 4wd it's going to feel weak. If Buick wants to be considered a premium brand and charge premium money, they need to provide a bit of a premium driving feel.
 

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My wife says The Bean is just too small.
Waiting for the Envision. If GM Authority is correct, it's about the same size as the VUE.

138 hp might be adequate in a cruze but for a vehicle with 4wd it's going to feel weak. If Buick wants to be considered a premium brand and charge premium money, they need to provide a bit of a premium driving feel.
I don't think they sell many AWD Encores. Some of the biggest Buick dealers are near St.Louis and they stock very few AWD Encores.
If by "premium feel" you mean a firmer ride, it's not gonna happen. Unlike some other GM brands, Buick knows who their customer is.
I've driven the FWD Encore a number of times and thought the acceleration was adequate.
 

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This is what upsets me about GM:

http://www.edmunds.com/car-news/buick-thinks-diesel-wants-more-power-for-popular-encore.html

That article was from 2013. GM was supposedly considering or studying a way to get more power to the Encore. Here we are already in 2015, and they still are "considering" a more powerful engine.

And, if things hold true to form, I'm guessing when they finally do get around to giving the Encore a new engine, it just might only be for "top" trim levels, the $30,000+ versions.
 

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Zero 60 is reported to be 9.5 for FWD. I do not consider that "adequate", especially if you are doing a lot of freeway miles. Outright dangerous in passing situations.
I'm not sure how you drive, but for many of us that grew up in the 1990's and drove cars from the 1980's, that was middle of the pack back then, and never did I feel for my life in freeway situations unless I made a bad decision or took too many chances trying to merge (which honestly, I see a lot of people doing.)

Don't get me wrong, I think the Encore needs more power because of the price point and the fact it is a Buick, but I also have driven it a couple of times and never, EVER thought it was dangerous to drive because of a lack of power (and one time I drove it, it was the vehicle of a relative in FL that let me drive it, and we took it on and off of I-95 with 4 people weighing almost 600 lbs without any sense of 'danger')
 

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Zero 60 is reported to be 9.5 for FWD. I do not consider that "adequate", especially if you are doing a lot of freeway miles. Outright dangerous in passing situations.
I would like to see an increase in power to 160, however,I would never consider describing the acceleration,passing or merging speed as dangerous. Adequate, yes, dangerous, no way. I drove VW rear-engined Beetles for years. 0 to 60 seemed to take all day but I never, ever had difficulty merging into traffic. Passing was not a problem at all because I seldom had to pass. The Bugs would cruise at 70mph all day though.
 

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If the Encore is selling so well maybe they should consider producing it in North America.
It's sibling the Trax is assembled in Mexico. Why not the Encore? Or better yet in Lake Orion, MI along side the Sonic and Verano?
 

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Wow, they're just now evaluating the fact that a 138 HP engine is unacceptable for a near luxury brand?
How is it possible to take this company seriously?
Then no one should take Mini seriously either.
They've sold cars more expensive than the Encore with less HP for years.
Someday you'll figure out this new paradigm... a car can now be near lux by offering quality and content, not just size and power.
The public has clearly bought in.
 

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The encore I traveled in during a friends test drive was so ridiculous GM should immediately upgrade the engine to the 1.6 liter turbo with 200 hp.

138 turbo charged 1.4 made such horrific whines during the test drive to accelerate briskly to highway speeds crushed the sale immediately and this was from an older guy who normally drives five mph under the speed limit on the highway...(very conservative driver)

Nêws upgrading the engine is good news. My friend choose the 2.4 liter verano as his new vehicle.

That was a nice car with brisk non labored driving experience that satisfied him.

The quietness of the Buick brand pulled from his previous vW Cc lease.
 

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My brother, 31, loves his Encore. His biggest complaint about it though, is the lack of power. He went from a '99 Regal to the Encore and has been really impressed with the vehicle.

My parents have also taken a liking to it and are thinking of trading their '05 LaCrosse in for one, but I know for a fact my dad wouldn't like the engine in it. He is still among the thoughts that 4 cylinders are slow and crappy, and I have a feeling, with the way he drives, he'd think the same about the engine in the Encore.
 

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I know the Encore is based off Gamma, but it would be a great candidate for a Voltec option. You'd get slightly better performance, with quantum leaps in fuel efficiency and drivability.

Of course, it will never happen, because GM.
 

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Zero 60 is reported to be 9.5 for FWD. I do not consider that "adequate", especially if you are doing a lot of freeway miles. Outright dangerous in passing situations.
I wouldn't call that dangerous - definitely not effortless, but not dangerous. My baseline is my old Escort wagon though - 88 HP, 0-60 >12 seconds, and an A/C button dubbed the "decelerator".


They should definitely go to the new 1.6T Medium Gas Engine - around 180 HP, and probably better mileage to boot. That would put some space between the Encore and the Trax, especially if the Trax switches to the new 1.4T Small Gas Engine. Otherwise you have two vehicles that occupy the same space, and I'd rather they make the best Trax they can without worrying about stepping on the Encore's toes.
 

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Glad to see that more power may be in the future. But like a lot of the rest, I keep wondering why they're always "considering" or "contemplating" these no brainer issues. Speaking of dealing with smaller engines I think of it this way from my experience: Going from a 3.8L V6 4spd. auto to a 2.4L I4 6spd. auto, the transmission made the difference for me. More gears helped mask the difference in power. Not saying it's a solution but it helps IMO.
 

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I have to imagine the Trax will steal some of these sales this year as it becomes available. I was at Epcot this week and they had a Trax sitting in the "Test Track" ride as you exit. I hopped in it, and the interior looked much better than I was expecting. It's still a little bland on the outside, but I'd have no problem with the interior, and that's where you spend most of your time. I'm not sure what the price difference is, but I'd bet quite a few sales will move to the Chevy.
 
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