Daimler Trucks, Navistar Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – September 18, 2008 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Daimler Trucks North America, LLC (DTNA) discontinue or modify certain advertising claims for the company’s Freightliner Cascadia tractor trucks.  However, NAD determined that the monadic claim “We were able to fine-tune the truck’s design to maximize aerodynamics and fuel economy” is supported by the evidence in the record. 

NAD, the advertising industry’s self regulatory forum, examined DTNA’s print and Internet advertising following a challenge by International Truck and Engine Corporation (renamed Navistar, Inc.), maker of ProStar Trucks, a competing line of tractor trucks.

Print and Internet advertising claims included:

  • “We have more than the most fuel efficient design…its official.  Cascadia is the most aerodynamic truck on the planet…And a truck with less aerodynamic drag means better fuel efficiency and savings at the pump.”
  • “Auto Research Center (ARC), and independent company…has reviewed and validated these results.”
  • “[Using Cascadia Trucks] could save customers as much as $950 to $2,750 a year per truck.”  (Superscript: “based on 7.8% less drag”)
  • “‘My overall conclusion from this test is that based upon the results, the Freightliner Cascadia is the most aerodynamic of the five tractors tested,’ said Mike Camosy, ARC operations manager.”
  • ARC researchers compared the Cascadia with four other similarly spec’ed [sic] Class 8 vehicles.”

NAD also examined claims made in internal sales-related training documents.  NAD noted at the outset that internal documents constitute advertising in that they are used to provide salespeople with information they can use to explain to potential purchasers the ways in which Cascadia is superior to competing trucks.  The claims included:

  • “Industry leading aerodynamics…[with] advantages in ALL areas of this truck when compared to our competitors….our aerodynamic superiority over every truck now in the market place is where you can show your customers the biggest cost savings of all.”
  • “We were able to fine-tune the truck’s design to maximize aerodynamics and fuel economy.”
  • A table with Cascadia listed as the most fuel efficient, International ProStar as the second most fuel efficient at +$948 more in fuel use, as well as Volvo, Kenworth and Peterbilt in the 3rd, 4th and 5th place.
  • “ARC, an independent company…has reviewed and validated these test results.”

The main issue in this case is the truth and accuracy of the advertiser’s superior fuel savings claims.  The advertiser presented evidence based on proprietary aerodynamic testing that was used to estimate the fuel savings that customers can expect to achieve.  The challenger’s rebuttal evidence consisted of the results of SAE Type III and Type IV testing, which it argued are industry standard tests to determine the fuel efficiency of trucks. 

Given the quantified nature of the fuel saving claims and the fact that NAD found certain aspects of the advertiser’s test methodology did not fully reflect real world conditions which can impact on a truck’s actual fuel consumption and, by extension, fuel efficiency, NAD determined that the advertiser did not provide a reasonable basis for the following claims and recommended that they be discontinued: 1) “We have more than the most fuel efficient design….it’s official.  Cascadia is the most aerodynamic truck on the planet…And a truck with less aerodynamic drag means better fuel efficiency and savings at the pump”; 2)  “[Using Cascadia Trucks] could save customers as much as $950 to $2,750 a year per truck.”  (Superscript: “based on 7.8% less drag”); 3) “Industry leading aerodynamics…[with] advantages in ALL areas of this truck when compared to our competitors….our aerodynamic superiority over every truck now in the market place is where you can show your customers the biggest cost savings of all”; and 4) a table with Cascadia listed as the most fuel efficient, International ProStar as the second most fuel efficient at +$948 more in fuel use, as well as Volvo, Kenworth and Peterbilt in the 3rd, 4th and 5th place.

As for the monadic claim “We were able to fine-tune the truck’s design to maximize aerodynamics and fuel economy,” NAD determined that it was supported by evidence in the record. 

With regard to the claims “Auto Research Center (ARC), an independent company…has reviewed and validated these results” and “ARC researchers compared the Cascadia with four other similarly spec’ed [sic] Class 8 vehicles,” NAD recommended the advertiser modify these claims to make clear that ARC did not verify the advertiser’s results but simply independently concluded that Cascadia had the least amount of aerodynamic drag of the trucks tested. 

In its advertiser’s statement, DTNA stated it Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) appreciates NAD’s careful consideration of this matter and that while it believes “NAD did not adequately understand the nature of certain technical information submitted with DTNA’s responses,” it would nonetheless “modify its advertising accordingly.”