Self-Driving Car Manufacturers Scrutinized Over Alleged Unsafe Car Features, False Marketing Strategies

Sep 06, 2016 05:50 AM EDT | Jomar Teves

A Mercedes-Benz magazine advertisement this late spring depicted a new sedan as a "self-driving car from an exceptionally self-propelled company." In a TV advertisement, the Daimler AG luxury brand also showed a prototype self-driven car with passengers facing each other before cutting to a current vehicle with restricted automatic steering

Wrong Car, Right Features

"Is the world truly ready for a vehicle that can drive itself? The future had arrived, with a concept car that is already a reality," the ad stated. 

But there was an issue. The E-Class Sedan both ads portrayed isn't a self-driving car. Rather, the vehicles highlighted certain technologies such as Drive Pilot, which can start a lane change by activating the turn signal and Active Brake Assist, which warns drivers of an inescapable impact and automatically stops the vehicle if the driver fails to act.

Mercedes-Benz pulled the TV promotion in late July in order to"avoid any potential confusion," a company representative said. The move came soon after customers wrote to the head of the Federal Trade Commission, complaining that the commercial inaccurately portrayed a completely driverless car. Since then, Mercedes-Benz already removed the "self-driving car" reference from the model's other print ads. 

Consumer Reports says Tesla ought to stop referring to its automated driving system as "Autopilot," calling the labels misleading and conceivably hazardous since the Silicon Valley Company's vehicles aren't completely driverless.

The Mercedes-Benz TV ad was already set to be supplanted, yet the vehicle maker removed it sooner "given the claim that consumers could confuse the autonomous driving capability of the...concept car with the driver assistance systems of our new E-Class," a company representative said.

The manufacturer from the beginning stressed on drivers ought to stay engaged, she said, adding that the vehicle isn't autonomous, and that the carmaker was "not positioning it as such."

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