Mercedes-Benz Ad Labels The 2017 E-Class A “Self-Driving Car”

Despite the fact that the vehicle’s autonomous functions have been shown unable to compete with Tesla’s Autopilot, and may not even be particularly safe, Mercedes-Benz has decided to advertise the 2017 E-Class as a “self-driving car” … temporarily.

According to keen observers, the advertisement — which goes: “Introducing a self-driving car from a very self-driven company” — has already been pulled in the US because it was determined to be “deceptive.” Nonetheless, you have to wonder if the ad wasn’t largely a response to Tesla’s Autopilot technology.


What’s the takeaway of this? The takeaway for me is that, despite not having a comparable product to Tesla’s, nor a truly self-driving car (of course), the company recognizes that that’s the future of the industry and what many high-end luxury vehicle buyers now want?

Considering the frequency with which self-driving cars have been talked about in the news as of late (partly as a result of the much-discussed fatal Autopilot car wreck), there are no doubt many people who are itching to buy one.

And with Mercedes-Benz’s reputation, there are probably a fair number of people who would prefer to buy an autonomous car from the German automaker rather than from Tesla (bless them — they don’t know any better). But how long until Mercedes brings a truly self-driving car to market? Probably at least a few years at the earliest…. Which leaves one wondering about the judgement of the people behind the recent ad. The wording is indeed quite deceptive. (For the record, I find much of Tesla’s wording concerning “Autopilot” to be deceptive, and dangerous, as well.)

(Hat tip to “raynewman” on the Tesla Motors Club forum for posting a pic of the recent ad.)

One thought on “Mercedes-Benz Ad Labels The 2017 E-Class A “Self-Driving Car”

  1. So first of all I totally agree with your conclusion that such advertisement is dangerous and shouldn’t be done by any company at this stage.

    However it would be good to stick to the facts when comparing offerings. First of all the E-class autonomous driving system has never been compared by any test with the Tesla S. Secondly, the test that you reference is not credible. All it showed that there were less interventions needed from the driver in a non standardized test. Whether this is due to a better performing Tesla system or due to high tolerance threshold for uncertainty is unclear. Mercedes has a 100 year brand history, millions of customers, and a lot to lose: e.g. putting an unsafe vehicle on the road or investing too early too much into a single technology and going out of business is not an option.

    Tesla on the other hand has very little to lose at the moment, they are a non profitable company that live on Elon’s and their shareholders money, but they have a lot of future potential (earnings) to offer in return. Therefore everything Elon says should be taken with a pinch of salt. E.g. the grand opening of the Gigafactory is a marketing stunt, it will take another year before the first car batteries will be produced (i.e. quality can be managed) and let’s see whether this promise can be kept. Secondly the capabilities of the Tesla autopilot seem to sound a lot better on paper than on the road and maybe one has to rethink where it is safe to use today. Thirdly, I see comparisons between the Model 3 and marketed cars popping up e.g. the i3, but nobody even knows what the real specs and performance of the Model 3 will be (and whether it can be made available at scale in the near future)

    I applaud Elon to come out with such a grant vision and put his money where his mouth is. He has also already succeeded by shaking up the whole industry. Autonomous and EV cars will likely be successful (and Elon should get a lot of credit for accelerating this by years or maybe even decades). However whether Tesla will be successful, can deliver on its promises, and build a sustainable business remains to be seen. Some objectivity in reporting would be sometimes welcomed.

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