Lexus' Misleading Self-Charging Hybrid Ads

Norway Puts Its Foot Down On Lexus' Misleading 'Self-Charging' Hybrid Ads: 'This is a Pure Lie'

Norway’s Consumer Authority has put its foot down on Toyota’s ads for the Lexus NX, deeming the campaign for the "self-charging hybrid" crossover as misleading. Many people complained about Toyota’s ads in Norway for its hybrid compact vehicle, with some stating that the company's pitch was a "pure lie."

[by Claribelle Deveza Tesmanian, January 10, 2020]

According to Norsk Elbilforening, complaints about the Lexus NX’s claim that it was a self-charging hybrid were found in the Dagens Næringslivs D2 magazine, in Aftenposten's A magazine, and in Stavanger Aftenblad. The majority of the complaints took issue with Toyota's pitch, which could be misunderstood as the hybrid having the capability to charge for free because of its regenerative braking capabilities. 

“Lexus and Toyota market their hybrids heavily as self-recharging, without notifying the customer that all energy used for recharging comes from the combustion of gasoline. In its latest ads, Lexus even uses the phrase. Lexus offers the power. This is purely [a] spiked lie. As a Lexus owner, I pay dearly for this stream through the gas bill,” one of the complaints said. 

A second stated, “It is true that the power supplied to the batteries during regeneration during braking (including deceleration by releasing the gas) is "free," although this also comes from the motion energy generated by an internal combustion engine.”

It is the second claim that provided Norway’s Consumer Authority a way to deem Lexus' claims as false, and find Toyota in violation of the country’s marketing laws. 

Norway's Marketing Act prohibits marketing content with false, misleading, or unreasonable information. It explicitly states that marketing information that may mislead consumers about the benefits of a product is not allowed. 

As such, the Consumer Authority found that statements like, “The hybrid that offers power” and “In hybrids from Lexus, the power (always costs) absolutely nothing” (translated to English through Google Translate) lead consumers to think that they could power the NX’s battery for free. Another hole the Consumer Authority found with Toyota’s ad for the Lexus NX was in the statement “...produce the power itself; charges when you release the gas, when you slow down, yes, even while driving.”

When it talked about free power, the ad actually referred to the saved energy the compact vehicle would save because of regenerative braking. In reality, however, that saved energy would still have to come from the combustion engine with a little help from petrol, which would cost NX owners. 

Based on the misleading statements above, the Consumer Authority concluded that the Lexus NX’s add was deceptive and in violation of the Marketing Act. The authoritative body stated that the marketing content for Toyota could have influenced consumers to buy the vehicle on the false presumption that the Lexus NX would be cost-effective and economically beneficial due to its self-charging claims.

Featured Image Credit: Norsk elbilforening

[by Claribelle Deveza Tesmanian, January 10, 2020]


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