Earlier this week the Napleton Automotive Group brought a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) for allegedly trying to bribe their dealerships into falsifying sales numbers. FCA’s response is aggressive and crystal clear.

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Here’s FCA’s complete statement directly from their press office:

FCA Strongly Rejects Allegations by Two U.S. Dealers

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) learned late yesterday of the filing of a lawsuit in an Illinois Federal Court by two U.S. dealers located in Illinois and Florida. The named defendants are FCA US LLC (“FCA US”) and FCA Realty LLC. The dealer plaintiffs are two dealerships of the larger Ed Napleton Automotive Group.

The lawsuit makes allegations of false sales reporting by FCA US. Notwithstanding numerous requests to provide evidence of this alleged activity, the plaintiffs have refused to substantiate their claims. FCA US carried out an investigation of the facts, and has determined that these allegations are baseless and plaintiffs were notified of this fact before they filed suit.

This lawsuit is nothing more than the product of two disgruntled dealers who have failed to perform their obligations under the dealer agreements they signed with FCA US. They have consistently failed to perform since at least 2012, and have also used the threats of litigation over the last several months in a wrongful attempt to compel FCA US to reserve special treatment for them, including the allocation of additional open points in the US FCA network.

FCA US will continue to resist these pressures, safeguarding the relationship of trust and openness which governs its relationship with its dealers. FCA finds it unfortunate and disappointing that reputable media would be willing to be used in questionable litigation practices without a full understanding of the facts.

Emphasis ours, because wow. That’s the most strongly worded press release I’ve ever seen and probably as close as a car company has been to physically burning down its own dealership.

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Of course there really was no other option for FCA in a case like this, at least as long as the corporation is innocent. Falsification of sales records is an accusation of the highest degree, and even just putting the idea in the minds of shareholders and stock traders could do damage.

The dealership group is now forced to double-down or back off completely, but I have a feeling FCA won’t allow this outfit to sell their cars for much longer. And if the dealership does rescind, they’re going to have a hard time holding a business relationship with any automaker after pulling a stunt like that.

The next move will be the Napleton Automotive Group’s. Stand by to see where the lawsuit goes now that FCA has shown they have no intention of conceding.

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Image via FCA


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.