False Advertising From Ford And Chrysler? Or Much Ado About Nothing?

October 11, 2011

It could be a tempest in a teapot or just the latest in the slings and arrows tossed about by this group or that, but Made in the USA Foundation, a California-based advocacy group, claims that Ford and Chrysler are guilty of false advertising and has filed claims with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to stop certain vehicle ads.

As reported in Automotive News (subscription required) via our sister publication TheCarConnection, the Made in the USA Foundation claims that both automakers are running ads that lead consumers to believe certain models are made in the USA, when they are not.

The complaint against Chrysler is over the “Imported from Detroit” tag used in its television and print ads for the Chrysler 300. In point of fact, the 300 is assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada and uses engines from Chrysler’s Mexico engine plant.

For its part, Chrysler’s ads don’t actually say that the 300 is made in the USA. It could be a matter of semantics, but “Imported from Detroit” might be construed as more of an image-building campaign for Chrysler. One thing is certain: Chrysler is definitely going to protect its campaign, according to a statement from the company’s legal counsel.

2012 Ford Fusion

2012 Ford Fusion

Enlarge Photo

As for Ford, the Foundation is unhappy with a recent radio spot for the Ford Fusion, which refers to the vehicle as an “American car,” although it’s actually built in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

Ford counters that the ad was a dealer group spot and did not originate with the automaker. But Fusion overflow production for the 2013 model is moving to Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant, so that will bring the ring of truth to any statements that the Fusion is built in America, should they be used in future advertising.

What else is the Foundation upset with? They don’t like the fact that the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 300, among other vehicles displayed at major auto shows around the country, have the window stickers removed. Why should that be a bone of contention? The Foundation doesn’t like the fact that country of origin is removed, and that information appears on vehicle window stickers.

Let’s get real here. The reason these window stickers are removed at auto shows is to prevent their theft, as well as to encourage dialogue between showgoers and sales representatives there to promote the model on display.

Interestingly, as Automotive News points out, the Made in the USA Foundation was created in 1989 to promote American-made products, and initial funding came from Ford.

Yes, it’s good to promote American-made vehicles. If there is any misleading advertising going on, it’s probably good that someone points that out. But are these ads really false advertising? You decide and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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