THE Advertising Standards Authority looks set to undermine manufacturers’ official MPG figures, after upholding a complaint against Audi for publishing ‘misleading fuel economy figures’ on its website.
The complaint, put forward by an Audi A3 buyer dissatisfied with the fuel economy of their car, challenged the figures used on the firm’s website – with Audi suggesting that the A3 1.6TDi returned ‘a quite remarkable 68.9mpg on a Combined cycle’.
In return, Audi argued that the figures – which they are bound to use under EU regulations – ‘did not give an accurate representation of the actual fuel consumption which could be expected from any particular vehicle’, and were in fact only provided ‘to enable comparisons between different vehicles or models.’
The ASA’s response, meanwhile, was that while they were aware that the figures ‘had to be generated under test conditions, this fact wasn’t being displayed to consumers clearly enough – with many customers that the statistics are possible to achieve through real-world driving.
It’s not just Audi set for a telling off, however, with the ASA suggesting that other manufacturers may next be in the firing line.
‘This is a significant ruling that draws a line in the sand,’ an ASA spokesman told The Telegraph. ‘It is not just about Audi. It sets a precedent that will have ramifications for other car manufacturers.
‘The ruling sets out quite clearly that qualification is needed when quoting mpg figures. There will be an industry-wide communication to manufacturers and trade associations so they are aware of what to expect in future.’
The argument comes after consistent backlash from consumers over the accuracy of fuel economy figures that are supplied with new cars – with many buyers failing to achieve figures anywhere near the official ‘combined’ statistics.
An ASA ruling such as this, meanwhile, could see advertisements carry a disclaimer about the figures – although a change in the way MPG figures are recorded seems further off.
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