BMW Under Investigation for Alleged “Sales Punching”

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BMW is being investigated for its sales practices, according to a report recently published by the Wall Street Journal. The Journal revealed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into claims of “sales punching,” an occurrence where an automaker has its dealers claim to have sold its vehicles that are still in inventory to make its sales figures look better.

The publication cited “people familiar with the matter” as the source of the information.

BMW claimed, through the CEO of its North America office, Ludwig Willisch, that there is “a lot of pressure” to report high sales numbers.

If the “sales punching” practice is proven true, it would mean that BMW ordered its dealers to record vehicle sales for cars and SUVs that are actually still in dealership lots.

A spokesperson for BMW told the Journal that the company plans to “cooperate fully” with the SEC’s investigation and confirmed the company has already been contacted by the Commission.

In a 2016 report by Automotive News, BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch was quoted saying there is “a lot of pressure” to report high sales numbers during an event with the National Automobile Dealers Association. In the same event, Willisch addressed the practice of inflating sales figures by having cars registered as loaners and selling them as used cars with very low mileage. Willisch said the practice was not ideal but that “it happens.”

BMW, however, is not the only automaker to have been called out by the government for its sales practices. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was also the center of attention when it was fined $40 million for paying its dealers to report falsified sales information over a period of years by claiming unsold vehicles as sold.

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