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State Attorneys General Warn Automakers About SUV Ads

Apr 24, 2003 | www.caranddriver.com Stop airing advertisements that could mislead consumers on the safety of sport utility vehicles, the attorneys general of 40 states and territories warned automakers.

Citing a press release from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Dow Jones Newswires reported that Cooper and the other AGs issued letters asking the auto manufacturers to review their SUV ads in light of a multi-state agreement with Ford in which the automaker paid $51 million to settle claims by state attorneys general that the company's advertising failed to disclose the rollover risk involved with driving sport utility vehicles.

The AG's letters ask manufacturers "to comply with the spirit and terms of that agreement," Cooper said. The letter was sent to DaimlerChrysler, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

"The attorneys general are particularly worried about SUV advertisements that blur the handling distinction between SUVs and passenger cars, tout cargo volume without explaining safe weight limitations and exaggerate the vehicles' high-speed maneuvering capabilities," Cooper said. "We believe that the failure to disclose this material information, or to wait until after the sale to disclose it, constitutes a deceptive and unfair trade practice under most state consumer laws."

Specifically mentioned in the letter as misleading are ads that describe SUVs as "car like," Cooper said. The letters point to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that SUVs are three times more likely to roll over than passenger cars, the DJN said.

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