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Hyundai Under Fire: U.S. Dealers Sue Over Faking Sales Data for Electric Cars

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Hyundai Motor has been sued in the United States for allegedly manipulating electric vehicle (EV) sales figures. The automaker is accused of conspiring with dealers to inflate sales figures and penalizing those who refused to participate. Speculations arise that Hyundai may have used these tactics to emphasize the success of Executive Chair Chung Eui-sun’s “all-in EV strategy,” or it might be a counterattack by a dealer involved in a contract termination lawsuit with Hyundai.

According to foreign media, a group of Hyundai Motor dealers, including Napleton Aurora Imports, recently filed a lawsuit against Hyundai Motor America (HMA) in the Northern District of Illinois District Court. The lawsuit alleges HMA pressured dealers to manipulate the ‘loaner’ code, coding rental vehicles as sold vehicles to inflate EV sales figures. The case number is No. 1:24-cv-05668.

The plaintiffs claim that “dealers who complied with HMA’s orders to manipulate sales figures used a tactic of withdrawing the code when a rental vehicle was sold, artificially manipulating sales figures.” They also claim they received benefits such as vehicle supply price discounts, increased allocation of popular models, and incentives in return. “However, dealers who did not participate in such activities were disadvantaged. They should be compensated for the losses calculated based on revenue and profits over time,” they added. The plaintiffs submitted a recorded file to support their claims. The recording contains a phone conversation with a Hyundai sales manager. The sales manager said in the call, “We have to match the numbers for the press and Koreans.”

The core of this lawsuit is that HMA violated the Robinson-Patman Act, which requires producers to supply goods at the same price to all buyers. For instance, allegations that Coca-Cola or Pepsi supply goods to large retailers at lower prices would violate this law.

HMA immediately responded to the lawsuit. They released an official statement and promptly initiated an investigation. HMA emphasized, “condone falsifying sales data and had opened an investigation after it was alerted to the allegations,” and revealed that the company “has been pursuing litigation in South Florida to terminate two Napleton-affiliated franchises there tied to a criminal sexual battery allegation.” Napleton is one of the dealers who led this lawsuit, suggesting the possibility that the lawsuit could be a counterattack.

Napleton also filed a lawsuit against Chrysler in 2016 for manipulating sales figures. The lawsuit was settled in 2019 through an agreement with Chrysler, and the settlement terms were kept confidential.

theguru
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