Two weeks ago I noted that Toyota had got a smack on the wrist from Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) over misleading magazine ads for the Lexus RX 400h hybrid. Now, the tigerish ASA has told Toyota to quit screening its latest Prius hybrid TV commercial.
Today’s Guardian newspaper reports that the ASA found the ad “breached advertising rules by exaggerating the car’s environmental benefits.” Toyota’s latest misstep centered on the use of U.S. rather than British data to show how clean the Prius is compared to diesels. The ad, produced by Saachi & Saachi Japan, boasted that Prius pumps out up to a ton of C02 less than an equivalent car with a diesel engine. Unfortunately for Toyota, while that’s the case in the U.S., where the average car is driven an average of 12,430 miles a year, in Britain the average car is only driven 8,340 miles a year. That means the difference in C02 emitted each year between the Prius and diesel rivals is significantly smaller in Britain.
Still, the furor looks unlikely to hurt sales which are growing quickly, albeit from a low base. Toyota expects to sell 9,000 hybrids in Britain this year—up 90% from last year.