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Buick plans small, fuel-efficient compact

DETROIT - General Motors will announce the addition of a new compact car to its Buick luxury brand Thursday as the automaker broadens its lineup of fuel efficient vehicles.

Buick will add a luxury version of the Chevrolet Cruze that will be called the Verano, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The person did not want to be identified because the announcement is not official. The Cruze is a compact car that is just now reaching dealerships.

The Verano will be built at a GM factory in Orion Township, Mich., that is being retooled to make the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact next year, the person said. The Verano will go on sale at the start of 2012.

The company is expected to announce new jobs at the factory, located north of Detroit, although the person could not provide figures.

GM spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter declined to comment.

The Orion plant, which once made midsize cars like the Pontiac G6, has been shut down for nearly two years as GM retools its inner workings so that it can churn out a revamped version of the subcompact Aveo.

That car will go on sale in the middle of next year.

Most of the plant's roughly 1,330 workers are laid off until it reopens next year.

The Cruze, built in Lordstown, Ohio, is about the size of a Ford Focus or Honda Civic and is larger than an Aveo.

General Motors Co. is hoping the smaller Buick will help attract younger people to the brand. Until recently, Buicks were mostly characterized by bench seats and soft, cushy rides.

Buick sales so far this year are up 58 percent thanks to strong demand for the LaCrosse luxury sedan and Enclave large wagon.

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