By on July 5, 2017

2017 Volkswagen PAssat R-Line – Image: VW

There’s nothing like the antics automakers get up to when fierce rivalry or falling sales forces an emergency pressing of the desperation button. Just last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles found itself in quite a bit of hot water after its long-running sales-recording practices came under the federal microscope. Mounting pressure eventually forced the company to dial back its monthly figures, shattering some advertisement-friendly sales streaks.

Across the pond, Volkswagen now finds itself with egg (quiche?) on its face following a report by its internal auditors. According to German publication Der Spiegel, the automaker plumped up its French sales tallies for years — to the tune of at least 800,000 vehicles.

The details of this latest case of sales fudging, which apparently went undiscovered for seven years, seem particularly brazen.

The report claims Volkswagen’s French division sent misleading delivery figures to the automaker’s headquarters starting in 2010.

VW’s auditors discovered many owners registered their cars “several months or even years” after the automaker recorded the delivery of those vehicles, Der Spiegel wrote, and some didn’t even have purchase contracts at the recorded time of delivery. The inflated sales reportedly involves vehicles from across the Volkswagen Group range — VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat.

The auditor’s report isn’t new, having landed on VW Group CEO Matthias Müller’s desk in late April, though it is to the public. It’s believed the findings led to the departure of the head of VW’s French division. Jacques Rivoal quit the company following the report, with VW claiming “strategic differences” with management as the reason.

The automaker has not acknowledged the contents of the report.

In France, Volkswagen Group plays third fiddle in a market dominated by domestic vehicles from PSA Group and Renault. Car sales in the Tricolor country fell 2.2 percent in 2010 as France gradually fell victim to the eurozone recession plaguing its neighbors. Though the sales slide wasn’t as steep as in Germany, Italy, or Greece, it did impact Volkswagen. French VW Group sales of roughly 277,000 in 2011 declined to about 237,000 three years later, but the slump wasn’t nearly as bad as the steep declines recorded by PSA and Renault during that period.

Or so the company believed. So far, it isn’t known when or if the automaker will be compelled to pull an FCA and trim back its official French sales figures.

[Source: Reuters] [Image: Volkswagen]

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11 Comments on “When is a Delivery Not a Delivery? When It Involves a French Volkswagen...”

  • avatar

    I continue to be amazed that manufacturers, whether FCA, VW or others, fall for this folly. All you gain is a bump in one month’s sales reports, after that you’re just pulling forward next month’s sales numbers to make up for what you did the previous month. Once you get started, it’s like a drug addiction, it’s really hard to kick (and report a low monthly result, and admit you were doing it).

    I presume the 800K is over 80 months or so, so effectively they were shifting forward the sales reports for 10K vehicles each month. Mon Dieu, all this to get that 10K bump in that first month.

    • 0 avatar

      th009 – not so amazing when you consider that this folly likely means some VW managers got promotions and salary bumps due to “increased sales”. When the sh-t hits the fan eventually, they hope they will be promoted far enough away to avoid blame, and/or in a high enough position to get that nice golden parachute if they are forced to resign over “strategic differences”.

  • avatar

    Surely there is no car company, indeed just about any company, with less credibility left than Volkswagen?

  • avatar

    It was said on this forum many times that VW is very popular outside of US. It looks likes it is not the case in Europe itself where French brands beat VW. Of course VW dominates Germany but it is only half of Europe.

    • 0 avatar

      “Half of Europe.” Let that sink in for a minute. If VW is “only” popular inside Germany and that it represents half of the continent, that isn’t half bad.

      But I’d venture to say that even with the cooked books, VW Group as a whole is still rather popular all across the Continent.

  • avatar

    That is very interesting. I wonder if they have done it for any other market…

  • avatar

    I need RobertRyan to come and explain how this is actually good news for VW.

    I wouldn’t blame the French VW guys, they’re just following the example set by those back in Germany: solving problems by lying and cheating.

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