Ads About 'Self-Driving' Mercedes Cars Are Misleading, Safety Groups Say

Jodi Lai
by Jodi Lai

Mercedes-Benz is under fire by consumer advocate and safety groups for its ads on the E-Class that call the luxury sedan “self-driving.”

The groups allege that calling the E-Class “self-driving” gives buyers a “false sense of security” because the car isn’t truly autonomous. The groups say advertising the E-Class this way “is likely to mislead a reasonable consumer by representing the E-Class as self-driving when it is not.”

The new E-Class comes with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and active lane keep assist along with other such technology, but, of course, it isn’t simply a “set it and forget it” situation because it actually requires driver input, needs the driver to pay attention at all times and intervene when necessary. For this reason, the E-Class cannot legally defined as a self-driving car.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Reports, the Center for Automotive Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are calling the FTC to investigate Mercedes for false advertising.

“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 says. “In addition to a consumer possibly purchasing a car while being misled about its capabilities, the misrepresentations by Mercedes-Benz could give consumers a false sense of security in the ability of the car to operate autonomously. This misrepresentation is material because it significantly involves safety or is likely to affect a consumer’s conduct or decision with regard to the car.”

Mercedes has since pulled the commercial in question from its official YouTube page.

Jodi Lai
Jodi Lai

Jodi has been obsessed with cars since she was little and has been an automotive journalist for the past 12 years. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto, is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and a jury member for the prestigious North American Car/Truck/Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY). Besides hosting videos, and writing news, reviews and features, Jodi is the Editor-in-Chief of and takes care of the site's day-to-day operations.

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