BMW and MG electric car adverts banned over ‘zero emissions’ claims

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Advertising Standards Authority follows up its ban on misleading WLTP range figures with a new consumer-focused ruling on EVs.

The UK’s advertising watchdog has banned adverts from BMW and MG that suggested their electric cars caused ‘zero emissions’.

BMW ran a paid-for Google ad last August featuring the claim ‘Zero Emissions Cars – Download Your Brochure Today’, while MG made a ‘Zero Emissions’ claim on a Google ad for its electric cars around the same time.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) challenged both adverts for a misleading representation of the vehicles’ environmental impact.

“Both ads appeared on Google search and claimed their electric vehicles had ‘zero emissions’, said ASA spokesman Toby King. “While we accepted this was true when driving, we determined this was misleading as they still produced emissions when manufactured or, depending on electrical source, when charging. We’ve therefore banned these ads and told BMW and MG to ensure they don’t make similar claims without robust evidence in future.”

The ruling against MG found that the basis of the claim in the ad was not explained, and any ‘zero emissions’ claim for electric or hybrid cars that didn’t make it explicitly clear it related to emissions while driving, was likely to mislead. When it came to the BMW advert, the ruling stated that “without material information to make clear to consumers what the claim was based on, and clarification that it was restricted to emissions only when driving, we concluded ‘Zero Emissions Cars’ was likely to mislead”. Both car makers have confirmed that they will comply with the ASA’s verdicts, which are legally binding, regardless.

The two new rulings follow hard on the heels of rulings against Kia and Mercedes for running misleading advertisements suggesting EV buyers might reasonably expect to achieve official WLTP maximum range figures from the respective manufacturers’ electric cars, even though both makers recommended charging their vehicles’ batteries to only 80 per cent of maximum capacity.

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