Mercedes-Benz has backed away from its marketing campaign for the 2019 Sprinter where it claimed that the van was built in the USA.
An investigation from Truth In Advertising (TINA) took a sample of nearly 2400 Sprinter models listed for sale at U.S. Mercedes-Benz dealerships and noted that the vast majority of them were built overseas but simply assembled at the German automaker’s plant in South Carolina.
The consumer advocacy organization which aims to protect consumers from deceptive advertising looked at the VINs of 2390 Sprinter vans at local dealerships. The eleventh character in the VIN specifies where the VIN was stamped on the completed vehicle and according to TINA, 90 per cent of Sprinter models were stamped with a plant code of either ‘P’ or ‘N’, in reference to Mercedes-Benz’s Dusseldorf and Ludwigsfelde production facilities in Germany. Just 10 per cent of the Sprinters sampled had a plant code ‘T’ for South Carolina in their VINs.
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requirements for how much of a vehicle needs to be produced in the U.S. before marketers can claim that it is ‘built’ or ‘made’ in the USA. There’s not an exact percentage of domestic parts needed but “all or virtually all” parts need to be from the U.S. and foreign content must be negligible. Companies which don’t meet these requirements can sell their products as being ‘assembled’ in the USA if they do have a significant amount of U.S. content.
It is reported that the German car manufacturer spent in excess of $16 million since September 2018 on advertising for the new Sprinter, most of which focused on promoting the van as being built in the USA. The company has since modified its advertising campaign for the Sprinter in light of TINA’s investigation.
“MBUSA is modifying the current marketing campaign to focus on the jobs and capital invested in the United States. MBUSA is proud of its investments in the United States and has addressed the concerns raised by Truthinadvertising by modifying the content of some of its marketing material. As always, MBUSA desires to accurately describe its products and technology to its valued customers,” a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said.