By on September 2, 2015

000-2014-maserati-ghibli

According to a report by Automotive News, Maserati North America may have falsified nearly half their sales in December 2014 and an undisclosed amount for other months through a demonstration car scheme that rewarded dealers for being complicit in the scheme.

A lawsuit filed by Recovery Racing, owner of multiple Maserati stores in the northeastern U.S., claims a program aimed at falsely boosting sales numbers financially disadvantaged its business because of its reluctance to participate.

Court documents filed by Recovery Racing state former Maserati North America CEO Peter Grady communicated on Sept. 23, 2014, the details of a Ghibli Performance Bonus that would apply to new 2014 and 2015 Ghibis sold in a specific timeframe.

On Sept. 29, Regional Sales Vice President Rick Fuller demanded via email that dealers “punch” a 2015 Ghibli demonstrator unit, even though those units had not yet been delivered.

A “punched” vehicle is considered sold; when a digital retail delivery report — or RDR card — is filled out and submitted to the distributor. It also marks the vehicle as unavailable for dealer trade. Dealers commonly “punch” demonstrator units, but in small numbers — typically one per model available within a manufacturer’s lineup. Toward the end of a vehicle’s life as a demonstrator, the vehicle is sold as “new” to a customer — usually at a reduced price — and the RDR card is updated with the customer’s information.

A day after the first “punch” request, Fuller sent out another email demanding dealers do the same to their 2014 GranTurismo, GranTurismo Convertible Sport and GranTurismo Convertible MC demonstrator vehicles, threatening that Maserati would eliminate future incentives if dealers didn’t comply.

Maserati claimed a 300-percent increase in sales the following October with 1,367 vehicles sold, the same month FCA went public.

I’ll allow Automotive News to explain the kicker:

In December, Maserati again told dealers to punch vehicles into demonstrator status. On Dec. 31, Fuller forwarded an email indicating that Maserati of Westlake in Thousand Oaks, Calif., had sold 70 Maserati vehicles in December 2014, and Maserati as a whole had sold 743 vehicles that month, according to court documents.

But two days later, Fuller forwarded an email saying that Maserati of Westlake had sold 155 vehicles in that month and Maserati as a whole had sold 1,431 vehicles, according to the documents.

“The purported increase in vehicles allegedly sold by both Maserati of Westlake and Defendant Maserati in December 2014 was due to vehicles punched into demonstrator status and not yet sold to a retail customer,” the complaint said.

Maserati North America and former CEO Peter Grady declined to comment on the report with Automotive News.

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