Mercedes-Benz is the latest automaker targeted by safety and consumer groups for one of its ads. It highlights the self-driving features on the redesigned 2017 E-Class.
Several consumer and safety groups claim the spot overstates the system’s capabilities, which could mislead drivers into thinking it’s fully autonomous. Consumer Reports and the Center for Automotive Safety are two of the groups raising a red flag. They’ve also asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
Meanwhile, Automotive News reports the automaker has already decided to pull the ad out of rotation due to the controversy.
E-Class VS F015 Concept
The ad shows Mercedes’ futuristic F015 concept being overtaken by the new E-Class sedan.
A narrator says, “Is the world truly ready for a vehicle that can drive itself? Ready or not, the future is here.” You then see a driver take his hands off the wheel and the car appear to briefly steer itself as well as self-park.
Fine print at the bottom of the ad reads: “Vehicle cannot drive itself, but has automated driving features. The system will remind the driver frequently to keep hands on the steering wheel. Always observe safe driving practices and obey all road traffic regulations.”
Safety advocates are worried about two things. For one, they say it implies the E-Class can do what the futuristic concept vehicle can do. They also have a problem with it showing the driver taking his hands off the wheel.
Mercedes Drops Ad
In an email to Automotive News, a Mercedes spokesperson says the automaker dropped the ad “given the claim that consumers could confuse the autonomous driving capability of the F015 concept car with the driver assistance systems of our new E-Class.”
“The new 2017 E-Class is a technological tour de force and is a significant step towards achieving our vision of an accident-free future,” Mercedes spokesperson Donna Boland wrote. “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.”
Mercedes went on to say while the new E-Class is equipped with technology that serves as building blocks for increasing levels of autonomy, it is “not an autonomous vehicle and we are not positioning it as such.”
“We’ve always stressed that its technology is designed to assist the driver, not to encourage customers to ignore their responsibilities as drivers, ” Boland said.
The technology being highlighted is called Drive Pilot. The system includes advanced adaptive cruise control and automated steering, meaning the car is semi-autonomous and can follow traffic and stay in its lane on its own.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz/YouTube