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Bigland in the crosshairs?

by Bill Cawthon on

FCA US sales chief Reid Bigland is now a key target in the government’s investigation of the company’s sales figures, according to Bloomberg News.  The Justice Department is reportedly trying to find out how much Mr. Bigland knew about FCA’s sales reporting inaccuracies, as the executive who signed key Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents on behalf of the company.

Reid Bigland is also the head of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, which are key to FCA’s future. The company has spent billions to revive both brands; Alfa Romeo and Dodge will standardize on common engineering in future cars.

FCA has been accused of encouraging dealers to report bogus sales, to preserve its “winning streak.” The sales mis-reporting does not appear to have extended to financials, but could give investors (and car buyers) a misleading view of FCA’s success.

Automotive News sources claimed that dealers could be contacted and told that the “Department of Unnatural Acts” was “open for business,” if they needed to pad their sales. The industry weekly also wrote that their dealer sources said they had been told to make false sales, with the names of salesmen and their relatives on the paperwork. [Full story]


FCA’s chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, has said publicly that the sales reporting system was an inheritance from the old Chrysler Corporation, and that its maladies dated back to the 1980s. This does not address the allegations listed by Automotive News.

Mr. Bigland is being personally examined as a matter of Justice Department policy, established due to complaints that executives were not being held accountable for wrongdoing they condoned or ignored.

Bloomberg reported that Mr. Bigland,  FCA, and the Justice Department all declined to comment.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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