NEW YORK – Plagued by overcapacity due to slow-moving pickups and SUVs, GM finds a bright spot in the demand for its popular new 8-seat cross/utility vehicles: the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.
Sales of the trio are outstripping GM’s ability to keep them in stock at dealerships, says Anna Kretz, vehicle line executive for the vehicles.
The Buick Enclave, which went on sale in April, currently has an inventory of only 20 days. More than 1,000 Buick dealers don’t even have one in stock. “The inventory for Acadia has never been over 30 days since we launched,” she says.
GM delivered a combined 57,397 units of the Outlook, Acadia and Enclave in the year’s first half, Ward’s data shows.
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Kretz says sales should be higher in the second half because the Enclave didn’t go on sale until April.
GM recently announced it is launching a third shift at its Delta Township plant outside Lansing, MI, in mid-September. But Kretz insists the auto maker intends to manage supply closely.
Should high market demand continue, GM has the option of adding overtime to the 3-shift schedule, but it does not want to produce an oversupply of the three vehicles, she says.
The plant can build up to 250,000 units if needed, Kretz says. “It just depends on where the demand is.”
What is particularly gratifying to GM is that more than 40% of buyers of the three vehicles are new to the brand. Only 20% of Enclave buyers are trading in a Buick, Kretz says, which is positioned against mid-luxury CUVs such as the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90 and other imports.
The Acadia and Outlook are positioned against competitors such as the Honda Pilot. “We’re getting some customers from the Pilot,” Kretz says.
Even better, the GM CUV trio is selling without corporate incentives.
“Some dealers may ‘incentivize’ to conquest buyers,” Kretz admits. “But prices are in the high range of what we’ve targeted to maintain and grow our market.”
The GM CUVs are being sold very well equipped. The average transaction price for the Saturn Outlook is $31,000 vs. just under $25,000 for a base model. The GMC Acadia’s average transaction price is $33,500 compared with just under $30,000 for a base model.
The Buick Enclave has a base price of about $32,000, but its average transaction price is about $37,500, Kretz says.
The Enclave is seeing the highest take rate on all-wheel drive at 45% of sales. The Outlook’s AWD take rate is 30% and the Acadia’s is 40%. Price of the AWD option is just under $2,000.
Sunroofs are another hot option for buyers. About 40% of Outlook and 60% of Enclave customers purchase sunroofs. Towing packages also are in high demand. The $425 option has a take rate of about 50% with GMC customers and 30% with Buick buyers.
More than 80% of Enclave customers buy 19-in. wheels vs. the standard 18-in. About 50% of Outlook and 60% of Acadia customers purchase the power lift-gate option, standard on the Enclave.
About 600,000 CUVs were sold industry-wide last year, Kretz says, predicting the segment could reach about 800,000 units this year.
She declines to comment on whether GM’s strategy board is considering a new Chevrolet CUV on the same architecture. Some media reports have suggested the auto maker plans to build a Chevy version at its mothballed Spring Hill, TN, plant.