Consumer World has called on General Motors to stop running ads claiming that its Chevrolet brand of cars is “more reliable” than 23 other brands based on data from a survey conducted about the attributes of 4-year-old cars.
The television commercials depict owners of different car brands being asked what brand of automobile they think is the “most reliable.” After they guess various brands, the owners are shown looking surprised at the announcer’s statement that Chevy vehicles are “more reliable than Toyota, Honda and Ford,” based on “a recent survey.” Covers are then pulled off four vehicles to reveal model year 2019 Chevy cars as the claim is repeated and expanded to include 23 other brands. At the end of the ad, this disclosure appears: “Survey based on 2015 model year vehicles.”
Consumer World objected to the use of the survey as support for the claim. “How in the world can Chevy legitimately claim superiority in reliability today based on only the dependability ratings of cars from four model years earlier?” asked Edgar Dworsky, founder of the Massachusetts-based consumer advocacy organization, in a statement.
Although the study was conducted in 2018, it questioned more than 48,000 owners of 2015 vehicles about repairs that were required in the third year of ownership. The reliability findings of the GM study “stand in stark contrast” to multiyear surveys conducted by Consumer Reports, where Chevrolet placed in the bottom quarter of car brands for predicted reliability, Dworsky noted.
“Chevy is inappropriately using its good reliability ratings for the 2015 model year to imply that its current 2019 vehicles are equally dependable,” the organization alleged.
Chevrolet has stopped running the commercials. It stated: “Chevrolet stands by the reliability claim and the ad remains in the brand’s toolbox, but we have decided to take it out of the regular rotation at this time to launch new Silverado creative.”
To watch the commercial and read Consumer World’s press release, click here.
Why it matters: Dworsky reached out to General Motors about the commercial and the use of the survey. The response: “You need some time to develop a measure of actual reliability, so you have to look back at previous model year vehicles,” a Chevy spokesperson explained. While Dworsky acknowledged that car companies can’t instantly provide reliability data for vehicles new to the market, “they can be careful not to make broad, unqualified claims for new models using historic data,” he argued, calling on the car company to stop running the ads.