Mercedes-Benz Slammed Over Misleading Commercial

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mercedes benz slammed over misleading commercial

A glitzy Mercedes-Benz commercial that touts the 2017 E-Class as a vehicle that “can drive itself” has consumer and safety advocates fighting mad.

A number of groups are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to take action against the automaker, saying Mercedes mislead the public. In a letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the groups claim the E-Class doesn’t come close to being a self-driving vehicle, and fine print doesn’t cut it.

The ad showcases the new Benz’s automated features. In it, an E-Class driver briefly taking his hands off the wheel during a nighttime drive, then uses the vehicle’s self-parking system. “Is the world truly ready for a vehicle that can drive itself?” the narrator states. “An autonomous-thinking automobile that protects those inside and outside. Ready or not, the future is here.”

2017 E-Class models are available with “Drive Pilot,” an automated system that uses adaptive cruise control and a lane-holding feature to make driving easier.

The letter bears the signatures of Consumer Reports, the Center for Auto Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, and Joan Claybrook, former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator. In it, the groups say the automaker’s claim could give drivers “a false sense of security in the ability of the car to operate autonomously.”

Fine print appears at the bottom of the ad, warning consumers that the vehicle “cannot drive itself, but has automated driving features.” Still, Mercedes-Benz is telling consumers two very different things, the groups say.

“The E-Class does not meet the definition of either a fully or partially self-driving car, yet it is marketed in a way that a reasonable consumer would believe it does,” the letter reads, adding that the commercial could pose a safety risk.

Daimler’s advert lands at a stormy time for autonomous driving. Controversy spiked after a fatal May crash involving a Tesla driving in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. The NHTSA and National Transportation Safety Board opened investigations into the crash, focusing on what role Autopilot played.

A Mercedes spokesperson quoted by Automotive News said the company didn’t intend to cause confusion. The spokesperson added that the technologies featured in the commercial are clearly identified as “driver assistance systems.”

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  • Testacles Megalos Testacles Megalos on Jul 28, 2016

    if people really are demanding transport in which they can sit rather than use their legs, yet don't need to be an active participant, isn't that a mandate for public transport? Not big busses and multi-unit light rail that arrives/departs every 30 minutes as is seen now, rather small single units that stop at your stop every 10 minutes. the local interstate is a traffic jam every morning with people going from one general area to another general area. Why not have large express busses or light rail connecting those general areas, and small (8-10 passenger) local frequent busses feeding those large transporters? Happens every day along the east coast....

  • JPWhite JPWhite on Jul 28, 2016

    Here's an idea. Mercedes should call it Autopilot :-)

    • Jpolicke Jpolicke on Jul 29, 2016

      Most likely they can't because Tesla copyrighted the name for their system. Although, the word is a generic term in the aviation world so I don't see why it shouldn't be the same thing when used in a car.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.