Hurry Up, Envision: Encore Isn't Quite Able To Carry Buick On Its Back
What is Buick in America without the Encore, the automaker’s most disparaged product on these pages?
Buick reported 16,114 LaCrosse, Regal, Verano, and Enclave sales in February 2014, a figure which fell 22% in February 2015, when the aging products were, quite obviously, one year older.
Year-to-date volume of non-Encore Buicks tumbled 20% through the first two months of 2015, a loss of 5441 sales across four nameplates.
So far this year, LaCrosse sales are down 17%. Regal volume is off by 32%. Sales of the Verano are down 18%. The Enclave is off last year’s two-month pace by 19%.
Yet the Encore, beginning its third full year, continues to thrive. One year ago at this time, Encore sales were up 179% compared with the launch period in early 2013. This year, January volume jumped 46% and February sales shot up 60%.
Through two months, Encore sales are up 54%, an improvement of more than 2900 units. The Encore, an entry-level saviour for Buick dealers at the moment, represents 28% of Buick’s volume. (Buick’s two utilities are outselling Buick’s three cars by 1035 units in early 2015.)
The current Regal went on sale in the first half of 2010 and saw its role sorely diminished by the Verano’s arrival at the end of 2011. The LaCrosse, though refreshed for MY2014, was first sold for MY2010. 2015 marks the Enclave’s ninth year of availability.
The necessity of new products aside, can Buick continue to sell its freshest product, the Encore, at a rate of 4100 units per month with new competitors rising up from every corner of the industry? While it seems unlikely that the Encore can persistently add volume at the prodigious rates it has routinely achieved thus far, the increased appetite among new car buyers for this very type of vehicle should produce further Encore health.
Of course, Buick does need other products to step in and help out, because even the Encore’s rate of expansion hasn’t produced overall health for Buick over the last two months. Encore-inclusive Buick brand sales are down 8% through the first two months of 2015.
With America’s car market failing to grow at anything like the pace of the overall new vehicle market, don’t expect revamped LaCrosses, Regals, or Veranos to do the trick, either. Don’t assume the Cascada will be a volume player. And don’t expect a production Avenir to drop out of the sky in the near future. No, like so many automakers, the Encore and Enclave will need help from yet another crossover: the Envision.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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