Following an upsurge in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles, an increasing competitiveness in the market, and a corresponding increase in the number of complaints regarding the marketing of such vehicles, CAP has released a message of advice for advertisers of electric and hybrid vehicles.

The ASA reported that complaints received related to “the claimed efficiency of the car, the equivalent to the number of miles per gallon it can achieve, and to the emissions released by the car”. CAP’s note states that as ads for electric vehicles are less likely to be easily understood by a consumer than ads for a more conventional vehicle, information should be clear and unambiguous, especially when claiming such features as ‘zero emissions’.

One such complaint set out in the report concerned an advert’s fuel consumption and emission figures. The ASA noted that the claimed fuel consumption figures in the ad did not take into account the fact that the battery had been fully charged from mains electricity before the fuel consumption testing began; a point that, the ASA argued, could mislead consumers as to the fuel efficiency that they could expect from the car. To the ASA’s satisfaction, the advertiser amended the ad, stating that the fuel consumption figures were not necessarily what a user would achieve and that they had been achieved through a combination of battery power and petrol fuel.

Heeding the advice of CAP, advertisers of electric and hybrid vehicles should take care when expressing figures in their ads, and should not assume a level of consumer understanding above what is reasonable for a relatively new and rather technical field. Please contact a member of the ReACTS Team if you wish to discuss CAP’s message or your electric vehicle campaigns.