BMW Was Reported to the Cops for Calling Itself ‘The World’s Most Sustainable Car Producer’

BMW Was Reported to the Cops for Calling Itself ‘The World’s Most Sustainable Car Producer’

A consumer authority in Denmark has reported BMW, the German car manufacturer, to the police, according to Reuters, for a marketing campaign in which BMW called itself “the world’s most sustainable car producer,” which the consumer authority says is misleading, probably because BMW may not be the world’s most sustainable car producer.

The Danish Consumer Ombudsman’s press release on the matter, as translated by Google, is delightful:

BMW Denmark has been reported to the police after using statements in a marketing campaign in 2021 and 2022, which, in the opinion of the Consumer Ombudsman, were suitable to give consumers the impression that BMW’s cars were significantly less harmful to the environment than other cars.

In the campaign, BMW used, among other things, statements such as “The world’s most sustainable car manufacturer”, “There is sustainability in every car that BMW produces”, and “The entire production chain for the BMW iX is green” on BMW’s website, in an advertisement on Facebook, on advertisements in the streetscape in Copenhagen and/or in advertisements on Berlingske’s website.

The Consumer Ombudsman has assessed that the statements were misleading and therefore in breach of the Marketing Act, as the measures taken by BMW to produce cars in a less environmentally harmful way are usual for similar car manufacturers’ environmental and sustainability measures. In the opinion of the Consumer Ombudsman, the statements also made BMW’s cars appear as if they are less harmful to the environment than they actually are.

Take that, BMW, which said in a statement that it is cooperating, according to Reuters:

Responding to the claims in a separate statement, BMW said, “it is working constructively with the ombudsman and the police and is providing necessary information,” adding that it could not make further comments in an ongoing case.

It is not clear what the upshot is here, exactly, though according to the ombudsman’s website, “In the case of serious violations of the consumer protection legislation that are punishable, the Consumer Ombudsman processes cases with a view to criminal sanctions,” which sounds dramatic, though so does reporting a company to the police. The ombudsman’s website also says that they have around 30 employees, including a lawyer named Christina Toftegaard Nielsen who leads the authority and is quoted in the BMW press release, who now gets to tell people that BMW has been reported to the police.

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