When High Expectations Meet a Low Blow
As a motoring enthusiast, I have long held a deep respect and admiration for both Toyota and Hyundai. Their innovation, drive for sustainability, and relentless pursuit of progress have often caught my eye. So, it was with a heavy heart that I reported a surprising twist on the electric vehicle (EV) front.
Plugged into Controversy
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has hit the brakes on certain EV advertisements by these admired car manufacturers. The reason? They overstated the charging speed of their respective EVs. The ASA’s decision has led to a ban on three Hyundai ads for its Ioniq 5 model and a section on Toyota’s website that promotes its bZ4X model.
Igniting the Debate
The controversy stems from Hyundai’s advertisements rolled out in January 2022. They consisted of a digital billboard in Piccadilly Circus, a promotional YouTube video, and a marketing brochure on the company’s website. The content boldly claimed that the Ioniq 5 could charge from 10% to 80% in less than 18 minutes when hooked up to a 350kw ultra-fast charger. The YouTube video even cheekily showcased Chelsea FC players completing a series of challenges within the proclaimed car charging time.
Toyota, meanwhile, made claims on its website in March 2022 that its bZ4X model could reach an 80% charge in “around 30 minutes” using a 150kw fast-charging system. However, several discerning consumers lodged complaints that the car manufacturers had overlooked factors such as battery temperature, ambient temperature, and battery age and condition, all of which could significantly affect charging times.
In Defense of Speed
Despite the backlash, both Hyundai and Toyota stood their ground. Hyundai maintained that its claim was “accurate and substantiated”, sharing internal factory testing results which showed the car charging from 10% to 80% in just over 17 minutes when using an ultra-fast charger. Toyota, too, justified its position, stating it used “conservative” language and adequately notified consumers via footnotes that charging times were subject to local conditions and could vary by location. Both companies argued that their ads highlighted that the charging speed was dependent on the type of charger used.
Yet, the ASA remained unswayed. The regulator concluded that the ads breached advertising rules by misleading consumers and omitting crucial information that could substantially influence the advertised charging times.
Lessons from the Pit Stop
To me, as a motoring enthusiast, it is a sad day when the brands I have long admired are penalised for a lapse in judgement. It’s a disheartening reminder that even our favourites can falter. But ultimately, it’s about consumer trust, honesty, and transparency.
In the end, the ASA ruled that the advertisements were in violation of the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules and declared that the ads should not be displayed again in their current form. Hyundai promptly removed the YouTube ad, which had omitted the “ultra-fast” charger reference. The ad will not be republished by either Hyundai or Chelsea FC.
This event serves as a sobering reminder to automakers and advertisers that consumers deserve clear and accurate information. Even more so in this era of rising electric vehicle popularity, where potential buyers rely heavily on these claims to make their purchase decisions. My hope is that these trusted car manufacturers learn from this experience and continue to lead the way – but this time, with a more measured and responsible approach to their claims.
The Bournemouth Observer Motoring: Your Guide to the Open Road.