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Toyota’s ‘self-charging hybrid’ ad is banned in Norway, deemed a lie

Toyota has a history of creating misleading electric-vehicle advertising, especially with its “self-charging hybrid” ad campaign. Norway has now banned the campaign, deeming it a lie.

The Japanese automaker has long been a proponent of hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. In the process, it has shunned all-electric vehicles and focused on “electrified” by 2025.

Toyota has been going further than simply not making all-electric vehicles, aside from compliance cars. It has also been producing advertising content that some would call propaganda against all-electric vehicles.

In 2018,  Lexus, Toyota’s premium brand, started a new advertising campaign for its hybrids (HEVs without plugs) with claims like “self-charging,” having “infinite range,” all while trash talking all-electric vehicles in the process.

Their logic to claim self-charging is that the gas engine is recharging the battery pack. They claim it’s “self-charging without a plug,” which, of course, they present as something more convenient than a plug, but they make no mention of having to go to the gas station to refuel every week and pay for that fuel.

We have reported on this misleading ad campaign on several occasions.

Now it has also caught the attention of the consumer authority in Norway who has decided to ban the ad, which it finds misleading.

The Norwegian Consumer Authority said in a statement (via Elbil, translated from Norwegian):

In the Consumer Authority’s opinion, it is misleading to give the impression that the power to the hybrid battery is free of charge, since the electricity produced by the car has consumption of gasoline as a necessary condition: Regenerative energy will in all practical respects have consumption of gasoline as a necessary condition.

On this basis, we conclude that marketing is a misleading commercial practice in violation of Section 7, first paragraph, etc. In our view, the commercial practice will also be suitable for influencing consumers to make an economic decision that they would not otherwise have made, cf. § 7, second paragraph.

The current marketing is therefore an unfair commercial practice in violation of the prohibition in § 6 fourth paragraph, cf. the first paragraph.

Therefore, Toyota is not allowed to use this marketing campaign in Norway anymore, and it has to answer a few questions from the Norwegian Consumer Authority.

Electrek’s Take

Great news. Of course it’s Norway, which is already the most progressive market when it comes to electric vehicles, who put a stop to this nonsense.

I know that Toyota is gradually starting to open its mind to all-electric vehicles, but it’s no excuse for producing content like that.

If you do see this ad campaign in your market, may I suggest that you send this article and/or the Norwegian Consumer Authority’s statement to your own local consumer protection agency so that they can look into the matter.

Hopefully, it will stop this misleading campaign not just in Norway, but also in other markets, where it could have an even bigger influence.

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