From HFT to LIBOR manipulation and European bond legal-covenants, and now Auto-manufacturer channel-stuffing; all conspiracy 'theories' proved conspiracy 'facts' - as Gabby Douglas might say "Nailed It!" We have been vociferously pointing out the incredible levels of channel-stuffing occurring at GM in the US, then China, and most recently into Europe (must read here) and now the WSJ confirms the latter; as sales of BMW and Mercedes, helped by heavy discounts and contingencies to dealers, are being questioned. Kenn Sparks, a BMW spokesman, said its July sales total includes vehicles that were purchased by its dealers for use as what are known as "demos"— cars used on lots for test drives. He declined to say how many reported sales were demos, saying BMW doesn't release the figure. "These vehicles may stay on the lot because they are used as demo models," he said. BMW's incentives appeared to help propel the car maker to a 1,900-vehicle lead over Mercedes-Benz (as surprisingly 7-Series sales tripled MoM, and 3-Series doubled).
It sold 1,696 of its 7 Series sedans in July, the highest monthly total so far this year, and triple the June total of 539. For the 3 Series coupe, which had demo discounts totaling $3,200, sales climbed to 2,555 cars, up from 1,222 in June and that vehicle's highest total for the year.
Dealers said they believe a few thousand BMW vehicles were sold as demos. The auto maker reported it sold 21,297 vehicles in July compared with 19,312 for Mercedes.
Fortunately there's no way to track it...
BMW's Mr. Sparks said BMW doesn't break out sales of demonstration vehicles.
Mr. Sparks said demo models should be clearly marked and sold as used cars. But managers who own or oversee more than a dozen BMW dealerships said they routinely offer the vehicles as new and that BMW's U.S. sales unit approves of the practice.
But dealers feel forced...
Several managers at BMW dealerships said they had no customers lined up to buy or lease the demo cars, but reported them as sold to lock in the discounts. "If I don't take them, then I'll be at a disadvantage to my competitors," one dealer executive said.
and the GM debacle is not a new thing...
In the past, GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler would lease thousands of cars a month to rental-car companies for very little. They counted those vehicles as sold. Then after a few months, the car companies took the rental cars back and passed them on to dealers that sold them as used cars.
One well known case of sales inflation occurred in 1998, when GM's Cadillac brand and Ford's Lincoln division racing to claim the top spot in luxury-car sales. Cadillac was trailing but its sales suddenly surged in December and it took the crown. Months later an embarrassed GM acknowledged that the Cadillac unit had purchased vehicles itself from its dealers, boosting the reported total.
Though this just seems like a ridiculous unreality game of catch-up...
Last year, BMW edged out Mercedes as the top-selling U.S. luxury car. At the end of November, Mercedes was ahead of BMW for the year. When it came time to report December sales totals, each company balked for 24 hours, hoping to force the other to go first.
Finally, Mercedes disclosed that it had sold 25,701 cars in December, and 245,192 for the year. Shortly thereafter, BMW said it had sold 26,834 cars in the month, enough to push its full-year total to 247,907 and claim the luxury-car sales crown.
Mr. Sparks said he is unaware of any discounts that were aimed at driving demo sales last December.