When we reported on the European Public Road Authority supporting Tesla’s Autopilot system following some concerns over the use of the word ‘Autopilot’ and the program being in ‘beta’ earlier this month, we also mentioned that a bigger concern could be Mercedes calling its E-Class with ‘Drive-Pilot’ a ‘self-driving car’ in an advert, which is significantly more misleading than Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’.
Now we learn that the automaker is pulling the ad following Consumer Reports complaint to the FTC.
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot, like Tesla’s Autopilot, is a semi-autonomous driver assist system with features like active cruise control and automatic steering on highways, but the performance of the two systems are reportedly extremely different.
The Drive’s Alex Roy recently did a complete comparison of both systems with a clear winner, Tesla’s Autopilot. He even wrote that Mercedes’ Drive Pilot is dangerous in most conditions and that he doesn’t even “understand how Mercedes-Benz could release this to the public.”
On the other hand, he said of Tesla’s Autopilot that it is “definitely safer than a human driver alone, assuming you use it as intended.”
A potential customer reading Mercedes adverts or watching their commercials would actually think that the automaker’s Drive Pilot is a ‘self-driving’ system. Normally, ‘self-driving car’ implies that the vehicle is doing all the work with no input from the driver, which is obviously not the case here.
Here’s Mercedes’ advert in a magazine (via Reddit):
With the campaign, the automaker also released some ads showing drivers without their hands on the steering wheel, which prompt Consumer Reports on Wednesday to send the Federal Trade Commission a letter calling on the agency to investigate the ad campaign.
Both in video and print ads, fine prints admitted that the vehicle cannot drive itself, but that is potentially a violation of the use of fine prints, which can clarify statements but not go against what is being stated in the ads. In this case, that the vehicle is a “self-driving car”.
We now learn that Mercedes is pulling the ads.
Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland told Automotive News:
“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,” Boland wrote in an email. “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.”
Boland wanted to make clear that Mercedes decided to drop 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” – reminding us that Mercedes has a self-driving car, it’s just not the E class.
Earlier this month, Consumer Repots also called for Tesla to stop calling its system ‘Autopilot’ for similar though less obvious reasons, but Tesla argued against it.