Toyota pulls Prius ad after exaggerating CO2 benefits

Toyota has been banned from running a television ad for its hybrid Prius car until it removes claims that the vehicle emits less CO2 than an equivalent family car.

The Adverting Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint that the Japanese carmaker exaggerated the environmental benefits of the car and has ruled the ad should not be broadcast again in its current form.

The ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Japan, says/ “What if all cars were like the Prius, with its hybrid synergy drive technology, it emits up to one tonne less CO2 per year.” It then added that it based the comparison on an equivalent family diesel-engined vehicle, calculated on it driving 20,000km. It also said Toyota Prius CO2 emissions were 104g/km.

The complaint was upheld after the ASA found that a chart used by Toyota to make the calculations held data on petrol and diesel cars, as opposed to merely diesel. It also found that private cars in the US drive an average of 20,000km a year while the average in the UK was just 13,440km. The chart showed that new cars registered in 2005 emitted 172g of CO2/km.

The Broadcasting Advertising Clearance Centre had checked Toyota’s evidence with an independent consultant and found it was suitable to show that Toyota Prius emitted significantly less CO2 than other cars.

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