When an automaker posts its sales figures at the end of the month, how many vehicles actually left the dealer lot?
Not all of them, according to a top BMW executive, who admitted that his company and others “punch” up sales numbers to boost their standing, according to Automotive News.
Punching cars is “not an ideal practice,” but it’s a reality in the industry, BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch said on March 22.
Speaking at the National Automobile Dealers Association-J.D. Power Automotive Forum in New York, Willisch said there was “a lot of pressure” to boost sales numbers. The practice involves an automaker purchasing its own vehicles to serve as dealer loaners, then quickly re-selling them as pre-owned after having seen very little use.
The issue of punching arose from last year’s close four-way battle for the top luxury automaker spot in the U.S., a battle BMW won — on paper, at least.
Recording 346,023 U.S. sales in 2015, BMW placed first in the race and Lexus third, but when actual vehicle registrations were tallied, Lexus came out on top.
Numbers gathered by IHS Automotive/Polk showed a gap of 10,764 vehicles between BMW’s sales and registration figures, the largest of the top three luxury automakers.
Like an army of Caspers, those ghostly Bimmers existed in an ethereal realm of non-existence, at least until a lucky buyer noticed a great deal on a same-model-year vehicle.
At the same New York meeting, Jaguar Land Rover North America CEO Joe Eberhardt said sales need to be spread throughout the month in order to combat the need to punch.