Ad Cops Slap Nissan for Potentially Misleading Charging Info

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ad cops slap nissan for potentially misleading charging info

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), like the fictional “phone cops” of WKRP fame, seem to be everywhere in that country, keeping tabs on everyone’s every move. As we told you last month, in the UK, commercials are not even allowed to show frustrated office workers getting behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, even if they’re shown driving sedately once the car leaves the garage. Dangerous influences lurk everywhere.

Britain’s ad cops are at it again, only this time there’s some meat on the bones of the complaint. Automakers often play fast and loose when it comes to describing the capabilities of autonomous vehicle functions, but electric vehicles are another area fraught with potential misleading info. Throw pricing and fuel economy into that group, too. Nissan recently ran afoul of ASA watchdogs after one of its ads suggested owners could partly recharge their vehicles in a hurry. Of course, this is technically a true statement.

What resulted was essentially a battle over the word “could.”

Suffice it to say, there’s no fighting [s]city hall[/s] the ASA. The agency’s ruling forced Nissan to pull the ad from its website, thus protecting consumers with allergies to fine print from an unexpectedly long wait at the charging outlet.

According to UK’s Independent, the ad claimed a Leaf “could charge up to 80 per cent of full capacity in 40 to 60 minutes, with a footnote explaining that this was dependent on a number of conditions including the battery temperature and size, the ambient temperature and the type of charger used.”

You’ll note the word “could.” Yes, under optimal conditions (while using a DC fast charger), the Leaf’s battery could attain the described top-up in that length of time. This obviously won’t be the case when charging from a home outlet or 240-volt public hookup point. Still, the use of the word “could,” the asterisk, and associated explainer would normally suffice with most ad councils, and this was indeed Nissan’s argument when hauled before the ad courts.

Even before the ASA got involved, Nissan responded to three owner complaints by holding a review. It then changed the wording in its ad to read, “Plug your New Leaf into a CHAdeMO rapid charger and get from 20% to 80% charge in around 60 minutes.”

Not good enough. In its ruling, the ASA said, “We considered that even with those amendments the ad was still likely to mislead, because the claim and accompanying footnote still did not clearly convey the degree of variability in the time that may be required to deliver a certain amount of charge.”

And so it was that the ad was removed from Nissan’s website. Where your sympathies lie in this achingly bureaucratic saga likely depends on which entity you distrust more: the automaker, or the government.

[Image: © 2017 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 07, 2018

    "Could" and "may" should suffice as long as some reasonable combination of conditions permit the advertised outcome. Heck, the ASA should tackle Europe's ridiculous WLTP EV range estimates. They're not ad terrible as the former NEDC estimates, but they're not nearly as accurate as the EPA's numbers - which is a shocker. Example: the 2018 Nissan Leaf WLTP range is 168 to 258 miles, while in the States it is 151 miles. As we learned in another TTAC story today, a realistic test showed about 128 miles. WLTP is a joke.

  • Brn Brn on Nov 07, 2018

    The ad was misleading. I approve of the ASA's action. Phone cops on the other hand, it's best not to even talk about them.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged