'Low emission' 4x4 ad misleading, says watchdogFirm pledges to make changes

23 May 2007

An advert for a 4x4 car broke advertising rules by claiming the vehicle had 'low emissions', the industry watchdog said today.

The headline on a Lexus advert for a hybrid sports utility vehicle (SUV) said: 'High performance. Low emissions. Zero guilt.'

Further description said the 4x4 car had 'category-leading low CO2 emissions' at 192g/km.

The advert implied the car's emission rate was low compared to all other cars not just other SUVs, the Advertising Standards Authority said.

It said Lexus had breached rules relating to truthfulness, comparisons and environmental claims.

Emission rate

The ASA said readers would infer from the headline that: '.. the car caused little or no harm to the environment, which was not the case, and had low emissions in comparison with all cars, which was also not the case.'

It told Lexus not to make similar claims in future if they couldn't be backed up.

Lexus said it had meant to compare the CO2 emissions of its RX 400h SUV - which costs around £40,000 - to those of other SUVs rather than all cars.

Company spokesman Scott Brownlee said: 'We weren't trying to be misleading and any changes that are needed, we will certainly make.

'It wasn't that we were trying to make a claim that was unsustainable. The car has low emissions compared to other 4x4s. That is the message we were trying to communicate.'

Hybrid engines

Friends of the Earth's senior transport campaigner Tony Bosworth said: 'Hybrid engines are part of the answer to cutting carbon emissions from cars, but just because a car has a hybrid engine doesn't make it pollution-free.

'Car manufacturers must put more effort into building more fuel-efficient vehicles, and advertise them accurately and responsibly.'

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