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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Commercial Slammed as "Misleading" by Safety Groups

To be or not to be self-driven, that is the question the automotive industry is dealing with nowadays. The autonomous technology has become the holy grail, and all manufacturers are desperately reaching for it, even though sometimes they might step over a few bodies to get it.
2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 51 photos
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The problem has been brought forward by the now infamous crash involving a Tesla Model S that resulted in the death of the electric vehicle's driver. But even before this, there have been plenty of signs that people have misunderstood the extent of the cars' self-driving abilities, or are deliberately ignoring their limits.

Tesla
has been by far the most vocal in advertising its Autopilot function, but it isn't alone. Mercedes-Benz had introduced lane keeping technology as early as the current S-Class model, but the first one where it really made waves about it was the 2017 E-Class launched this January. Even before the official presentation, everybody knew the E-Class was going to be capable of semi-autonomous driving on highways.

Somewhat predictably, the new model's TV commercial also focused on these features, but according to some consumer and auto safety groups, it might have gone too far. The video does suggest on more occasions -using both images and words - that the E-Class is a fully self-driven car. The voiceover goes "Is the world truly ready for a vehicle that can drive itself? Ready or not, the future is here" while the footage shows the driver taking his hands off the wheel while the vehicle was in motion.

Leaders of Consumer Reports, the Center for Auto Safety and the Consumer Federation of America, and by former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook have now signed an open letter asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the veracity of the German manufacturer's TV commercial. The letter states that "this ad is likely to mislead a reasonable consumer by representing the E-Class as self-driving when it is not."

The problem isn't restricted to the video spot, with the headline of the print ad reading "Introducing a self-driving car from a very self-driven company," which leaves even less room for interpretation. Those signing this letter think that "consumers deserve to be able to shop for a car without facing misleading marketing claims — particularly if those claims pertain to safety-critical driving functions. The FTC should defend its standard for clear and conspicuous marketing disclosures and take action against Mercedes-Benz for its potentially deceptive advertising." Both FTC and Mercedes-Benz USA are yet to respond, but the complaint does raise some valid points that can't be made to go away by the fine print briefly appearing during the ad.



 
 
 
 
 

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