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