FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Mercedes-Benz has withdrawn an advert in the United States which compared its new E-class with a futuristic self-driving concept car following allegations from local consumer groups that the marketing claims were misleading.
Earlier this week, U.S.-based Consumer Reports urged the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to scrutinize Mercedes' "The Future" campaign, which touts the automated driving features available in the new E-Class.
"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 in our ad ‘The Future,’ Mercedes-Benz USA has decided to take this ad out of the E-Class campaign rotation," the company said in a statement.
The Mercedes-Benz F105 is a fully autonomous self-driving research vehicle which allows passengers to travel without anyone doing the driving.
Earlier this week, consumer groups warned car buyers not to rely too heavily on a new generation of cruise control systems, which use computers and sensors to automatically keep in lane and brake, following a fatal crash by a Tesla car operating in "autopilot" mode.
The ensuing investigation of the Tesla accident by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has increased scrutiny of automated driving technology and the marketing claims made by carmakers seeking to push sales.
Mercedes said its marketing materials had always made clear that the driver of an E-Class needs to be in control of their vehicle and that technology in the car is designed to assist the driver, not to encourage customers to ignore their responsibilities as drivers.
"While the new E-Class has a host of technology that will serve as the building blocks for increasing levels of autonomy, it is not an autonomous vehicle and we are not positioning it as such," Mercedes-Benz said.
Automotive News was first to report that the ad had been withdrawn.
(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter and Jane Merriman)