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  • A Wall Street Journal report on Monday said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into sales practices by BMW in the United States.
  • According to the story, the SEC is seeking to determine if BMW followed the practice of “sales punching,” in which an automaker has its dealers claim to have sold vehicles that actually are still in inventory in order to make its sales figures look better.
  • A BMW spokesperson told the Journal that BMW plans to “cooperate fully” and acknowledged the company has already been contacted by the SEC.

    BMW is reportedly under investigation for its sales practices in the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, which published a story citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has contacted BMW and is looking into whether it has illegally manipulated its sales numbers in the U.S.

    The practice of “sales punching,” the paper said, if proved against BMW, would mean the automaker had its dealers record vehicle sales for cars and SUVs that were not actually sold but still sitting on dealership lots. A BMW spokesperson told the paper that the company plans to cooperate “fully” with the SEC’s probe.

    In 2016, Automotive News quoted a comment by BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch, who told the National Automobile Dealers Association at an event that there is “a lot of pressure” to report high sales numbers. He addressed the practice of inflating sales figures by registering cars as loaners, then selling them as used with very low mileage, by saying it is not ideal but “it happens.”

    BMW not the only automaker to have come under fire by government regulators for its sales practices. As the WSJ notes, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) paid $40 million in a settlement for having paid its dealers to report inaccurate sales information over a period of years, also by reporting unsold vehicles as having been sold.

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