SMMT publishes new marketing guidelines

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has published a new set of guiding principles around the marketing of automated vehicles.

Developed and agreed by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ AV-DRiVE Group, the principles provide an outline for responsible advertising and communication relating to automated vehicles and their capabilities.

The industry-led initiative will ensure consumers receive consistent and clear information regarding automated driving features, ahead of their expected introduction to British roads in 2022.

The guiding principles state that an automated driving feature must be described sufficiently clearly so as not to mislead and so that it is distinguished from an assisted driving feature.

An assisted driving feature must not be described in a way that could convey the impression that it is an automated driving feature, while the name of an automated or assisted driving feature must not mislead by conveying that it is the other.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The UK is at the forefront of the introduction of automated vehicles, which has tremendous potential to save lives, improve mobility for all and drive economic growth. It is essential that this revolutionary technology is marketed accurately and responsibly, and we are delighted to have brought together industry, government and other key stakeholders to develop a series of guiding principles that will ensure consumers will have clarity and confidence over their capabilities from when these advanced vehicles first make their way into showrooms.”

Matthew Avery, director of research, Thatcham Research, said: “These guiding principles are a key milestone in ensuring there is no confusion around the capabilities of assisted driving systems and future automated systems, as well as the responsibilities of the drivers using them. We have long advocated consistency of terminology. There are two clear states – a vehicle is either assisted with a driver being supported by technology or automated where the technology is effectively and safely replacing the driver.

“We urge manufacturers now to use simple marketing that does not over promise functionality and the key is for them to be delivered consistently across all marketing material, as well as through effective dealership education and their subsequent conversations and engagement with consumers.”