Fiat Chrysler to Revise Reporting Amid Probe of Sales Data Getty Images

Fiat Chrysler to Revise Reporting Amid Probe of Sales Data

Federal investigators are looking into whether the automaker inflated its U.S. car sales by paying dealers to report selling more vehicles than they actually sold.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, under investigation by U.S. authorities over its vehicle sales figures, said it will revise the way it reports those numbers beginning this month.

The company’s new method for the monthly U.S. deliveries no longer includes a “reserve” number that historically has been included in the figure for fleet and other retail sales and also will account for “unwound” transactions in which a vehicle is returned, according to a statement Tuesday.

Under the revised method, Fiat Chrysler’s streak of monthly U.S. sales gains would have ended in September 2013, the company said. Through June, it had reported increases for 75 consecutive months. Annual sales totals since 2011 under the new system are within about 0.7% of the numbers previously reported, Fiat Chrysler said.

The automaker said last week that it was cooperating with investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department on allegations that Fiat Chrysler inflated sales figures. Those probes followed two Chicago-area civil lawsuits that challenged the company’s sales numbers, saying that the automaker inflated its U.S. car sales by paying dealers to report selling more vehicles than they actually did.

The automaker said today that its revised reporting process will yield the “best available estimate of the number of FCA US vehicles sold to end users through the end of a particular month.” The company’s monthly sales reporting will take into account three components: dealer reported sales in the U.S., fleet sales delivered by FCA US and other retail sales including those made by dealers in Puerto Rico.

FCA said that in evaluating its reporting practices, it did not find a global standard in reporting auto sales figures. The automaker said it “seriously considered” no longer reporting monthly U.S. sales data and instead relying on quarterly financial statements, but decided the data is beneficial to market followers and “we accept that our decision to suspend monthly reporting would impact those constituencies and possibly may impair their perception, and in turn the public perception, of FCA US.”

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