By Oliver Hall
Michelin tyres has agreed to pay a legal settlement to more than 17 American states who challenged fuel-saving claims in its advertising campaign.
The settlement centred around Michelin’s claims that its tyres could save drivers money because they were fuel efficient.
The tyres maker is giving $375,000 which is divided between the states whose attorneys general complained that the ads overstated the promised cost savings when they were aired last year.
The settlement also requires Michelin to have reliable scientific evidence to support any future marketing claims, according to Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper, who led the states’ investigation.
Michelin officials said they provided test data demonstrating that its tyres were the most fuel efficient in most of 37 categories of tyres and will make only minor changes to its advertising claims.
Scott Clark, chief operating officer of Michelin Americas Small Tyres, said the only complaint about the ads came from a competitor — Bridgestone Americas Tyre Operations.
Mr Clark said: ”The results of that investigation that was done reinforces the point that tires do make a significant difference in terms of fuel efficiency.”
The investigation started last year, when Michelin advertised fuel savings associated with its tyres in ads which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and on ESPN.
The attorneys general alleged that the claims of savings were based solely on fuel costs, not on the comparative costs of competing tyres, and that the ads didn’t mention that consumers might save more money by buying a cheaper tyre.
The investigation did not question the safety or quality of Michelin tyres.
Sharon Curtis-Flair, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee attorney general, said the investigation started based on a consumer complaint.
Michelin said it decided to settle with the attorneys general to save time and money and that its modified advertising will be rolled out with immediate effect.
The states, who are getting around $22,500 each, also include Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Ohio.
Michelin denied any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.