Following an outcry from automotive safety advocates, Mercedes-Benz is dropping its "self-driving car" ad campaign. Both the commercial and the print ad the German automaker was running in the United States were largely considered to be misleading to the public.
The controversial ad's message was spread in both print and video clips in an effort to promote the automaker's new E-Class midsize sedan. The new car has a feature called Drive Pilot, which is supposed to compete with Tesla's Autopilot driving assist system. Mercedes has described the feature as a step above its intelligent cruise control system because "It can stop and go with the flow, and help you stay between the lines, even in curves," as well as change lanes automatically through a flick of the turn signal stalk.
While that is correct, the way the automaker has described it in advertisements is a bit more...extreme.
In print, the ad's copy read that the company was "Introducing a self-driving car from a self-driven company." In the automaker's TV ad for the E-Class (which Mercedes has since pulled from its YouTube account, although it can still be found elsewhere), announcer Jon Hamm states, “Is the world truly ready for a vehicle that can drive itself? An autonomous-thinking automobile that protects those inside and outside. Ready or not, the future is here.”
Well, not quite.
Both Consumer Reports and the Center for Automotive Safety sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in which they asked the agency to "investigate and take action against" the automaker for the commercials that were being circulated for the E-Class. It now appears that will not be necessary. Yesterday, a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson confirmed to Automotive News that the company has ceased circulating the TV ads.
“We do not want any potential confusion in the marketplace to detract from the giant step forward in vehicle safety the 2017 E-Class represents,” the spokesperson said. The Mercedes-Benz employee went on to explain the automaker felt it was possible for consumers to "confuse the autonomous driving capability of the F015 concept car with the driver assistance systems of our new E-Class.”
At the moment, is it unclear if Mercedes-Benz will also pull the print ads. The Drive has reached out to Mercedes-Benz for more information about the subject; we will update this post if we hear back.