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The Advertising Standards Authority in England is an ad industry run group that regulates and monitors advertising and marketing and addresses consumer complaints about ads. When a company runs false or misleading ads and they don't respond to ASA direction to change the ads, ASA can refer the problem to the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom, which are government agencies.

Recently the ASA looked into consumer complaints about an ad that Lexus was running for the RX400h that was misleading with the tagline "HIGH PERFORMANCE. LOW EMISSIONS. ZERO GUILT". Since the hybrid CUV has CO2 emissions of 192g/km compared to a European average of less than 160g/km the ASA didn't like the ad. Lexus responded that RX400h emissions were lower than any other vehicle in it's class but the ASA didn't think this was good enough and the ad implied that the emissions were low compared to all vehicles, which they aren't.

The ASA ordered Lexus not to imply that the RX caused little or no environmental harm relative to all cars if it wasn't true. Clearly this is a case of Toyota trading on a carefully cultivated green reputation that isn't always deserved. They certainly deserve credit for cars like the Prius, but many of the Lexus hybrids are not that impressive compared to many of the highest volume cars in Europe.

[Source: Advertising Standards Authority]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think Toyota's argument is totally valid. They've made the lowest emission vehicle in its class and are being penalized for it by having their ads restricted. What should they put instead? "HIGH PERFORMANCE. LOWEST EMISSIONS IN ITS CLASS. ZERO GUILT" That totally ruins the two word sentence flow of the slogan. So now they need to come up with a brand new slogan. Way to pay back Toyota for making the greenest car in its class.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sam gets the gist of the story correct...that this is clearly "...a case of Toyota trading on a carefully cultivated green reputation that isn't always deserved." The RX is simply an SUV that gets remotely decent mileage FOR AN SUV!! #7 got it right. All it is is a fad status symbol for the well-heeled to feel good about themselves.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Manolo, ASA is not denying the great achievements in fuel economy, it is just telling toyota to correct a misleading statement in order to protect the customers. Although customers in europe are far less interested in gasoline hybrids since they already have diesel engines to choose. And the way you said that cars here are the size of yaris made it sound like it is a bad thing. For my part having a compact car to do your daily commute is much better than traveling alone everyday in a car that gets 15 mpg. Oh, i can almost hear the argument that Americans are much bigger in the waist so they need their tanks, as well as their safety. Strangely, deaths per person from accident in Germany and Italy is not higher than in the US...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just another example of how "green" Toyota really is...Tundra anyone?
      • 7 Years Ago
      If someone is actually trying to be "green" (i hate that term, but oh well) buying a hybrid SUV instead of a car makes no more sense than buying a regular SUV over a car. If all vehicles end up with hybrid drivetrains someday, then SUV's will still be the most fuel-inefficient vehicles and then we'll be bashing hybrid SUV's. The fact is a hybrid SUV is not more "green" than most smaller cars, even traditional gas midsize cars, so a true environmentalist should feel just as guilty buying an RX400h instead of something smaller and more efficient.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Since the hybrid CUV has CO2 emissions of 192g/km compared to a European average of less than 160g/km the ASA didn't like the ad."
      Considering the Lexus is twice the size of the "average" European car, the fact it only spews 20% more CO2 emissions is a great feat!
      Most European cars are the size of the Toyota Yaris...
      • 7 Years Ago
      to #2, it might be great that it is lowest in its class, but that's still like runnin an election between Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Kahn. Who's the best? Does it matter?

      What the ad is doing is trying to make people think that it is a green vehicle and that they can drive a big truckish thing while still being environmentally concious. The truth is that it is not green and that few (if any) people need something like that when there are so many great wagons and hatches available in Europe that are far more green (even without being hybrids). The ad is deceptive and I really could care less if making it honest spoils the 'flow' of the ad.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Although I think Toyota is a good company and has done a lot of things right, it is sort of refreshing to see that they aren't perfect. All things considered, this article isn't a big deal, but it does sort of show Toyota to be what it really is, a big Company. Big Companies think with their bank accounts at heart, and if they can ride the green fanfare wave, they will, whether they are truly green or not.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The true environmentalists should walk or ride thier bike or take the train. The Prius is not an environmentally friendly or green contraption - its a car that gets good gas mileage. A hybrid Lexus is nothing more than a fad/status symbol for the well heeled, because it isn't green and it doesn't really get good mileage either.