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Michelin, Attorney General Settle Efficiency Claims

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-2153

May 14, 2009 - Michelin North America, Inc., of Greenville, South Carolina, will pay 17 states, including Vermont, a total of $375,000 to settle claims that the company misrepresented savings associated with its fuel-efficient tires. Commenting on the settlement, Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell said that “at a time when consumers care more than ever about fuel efficiency and its effect on personal finances and the environment, we need to ensure that this kind of marketing is accurate.”

In the spring of 2008, Michelin began a series of fuel-efficiency advertisements, including full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today and commercials on radio and television. The ads contained statements such as, “It’s time to fight back. Michelin fuel-efficient, long-lasting tires help you save money,” and “Michelin makes the most fuel-efficient line of tires on the road, which saves you money over the life of your tires.”

In fact, as alleged by the states, the ads did not adequately disclose that the advertised costs savings were based solely on savings in fuel costs, even though there are other factors that can affect savings, such as the initial cost of the tire and the average life of the tire in terms of mileage. In addition, the states’ review of Michelin’s own studies indicated that in some classes of tires, Michelin tires were not the most fuel efficient.

Under the terms of the settlement, Michelin has agreed to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence before making any fuel-efficiency claims concerning its tires and to undertake other improvements in its business practices. Vermont’s share of Michelin’s payment to the states is $22,500.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.