Are Ford And Chrysler Guilty Of False Advertising?

October 11, 2011
If California-based advocacy group Made in the USA Foundation is correct, both Ford and Chrysler are guilty of engaging in false advertising. Automotive News (subscription required) advises that the group has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission on vehicle ads from both Ford and Chrysler.

In a recent radio spot, a Ford dealer called the Ford Fusion an “American car,” even though it’s actually manufactured in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Ford was quick to distance itself from the ad by saying it was a dealer-created radio spot, not one developed by Ford itself.

As we told you last week, Ford will shift overflow production of the 2013 Ford Fusion from Mexico to its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, formerly shared with Mazda. That will give at least some of the upcoming Fusion inventory bragging rights as American built.

The complaint against Chrysler is a bit more nebulous, since the Made in the USA Foundation is protesting the “Imported From Detroit” ad that includes the Chrysler 300. The Chrysler 300 is put together in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, using engines built by Chrysler’s plant in Mexico.

As Made in the USA general counsel Joel D. Joseph points out, “The ads are clever but they’re false... Last time I checked, Detroit is not Canada.” The group’s petition to the FTC requests “corrective advertising” from Chrysler to clear up any consumer confusion.

Chrysler believes the group’s claim is without merit, and vows to do all it can to protect the “Imported From Detroit” image it’s created. In fairness to Chrysler, the ads don’t claim the 300 is built in America, only that it’s “Imported From Detroit.”

The Made in the USA Foundation is also unhappy that manufacturers are removing country of origin information from vehicles displayed at auto shows. This information is included on a vehicle’s window sticker, which is often removed at an auto show to prevent theft and to encourage dialogue with the helpful and friendly sales representatives working the show floor.

What’s your take on this. Is the Made in the USA Foundation right to sound the alarm, or is this much ado about nothing?

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