BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) – General Motors hopes that the timing is right, as Buick launches the new Encore. The Encore is one of the first entries in the small SUV/crossover segment, that is expected to really take off in the coming years.

“We see it growing by over 350,000 units, over the course of the next three years or so,” says Buick General Manager Tony DiSalle.

INTERVIEW: WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert talks with Buick General Manager Tony DiSalle.

While we expect many more vehicles in this segment in the coming years, right now Buick sees the Encore’s main competitors as the Volkswagen Tiguan and the BMW X-1. DiSalle says a lot of people are about to either move up, or move down into this segment of the market.

“There are a lot of people with life-stage, either young, upwardly mobile professionals, single, single-newly married, single child perhaps, where this is perfect,” he said. “Then, also, for people that suddenly realize, ‘We don’t have any kids in the home anymore. We don’t need all the space we had in the past.”

Buick showed off the Encore to journalists at a Tuesday morning event in Birmingham.

The Encore is built in South Korea. It’s designed in a way to make efficient use of space.

“The vehicle is small on the outside,” says Encore chief engineer Jim Danahy. “When you get in it, you’re going to feel it’s really roomy on the inside.”

Marketing manager Lloyd Biermann says they sold the first eight Encores over the weekend. Dealers will slowly see supplies ramp up, until the commercials launch during the NCAA Playoffs in March.

Biermann says the Encore will be marketed as a vehicle used primarily for transportation, but with significant utility when it’s needed.

“We see this really as a single person—or two people at the most, driving in the vehicle.”
The Encore joins the Verano compact as Buicks that are aimed at attracting a younger buyer, and pulling in people from other brands.

“Most luxury brands present themselves as membership to an exclusive club,” said DiSalle. “ Buick is much more inclusive, it’s much more warm, approachable and inviting.”

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