By on November 7, 2018

2018 Nissan LEAF SL

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 city hall 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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10 Comments on “Ad Cops Slap Nissan for Potentially Misleading Charging Info...”

  • avatar

    So why bother with ads at all?

  • avatar

    I’d love to see what they thought of full size truck ads in North America. The Detroit 3 all have the longest lasting, most efficient, most satisfying, and most powerful truck with the highest towing capacity in its class. *****

  • avatar

    I could drive a golf ball 300+ yards*
    *providing I had an extra long stiff shaft, PRO V1 ball, down hill roll of about 50+ yds., 25 mph wind to my back, nobody watching!

  • avatar

    And yet they have no problem with the “zero emission” label on the side of each and every Leaf, which has no asterisk of any kind despite the fact that 75% of UK electricity is generated from carbon-based sources (46% coal).

    • 0 avatar

      Well that’s just wrong. 9% is from coal. 46% is from Natural Gas.

      The US has “Partial Zero Emissions vehicles” and you ask “WTF is that?”. And it’s a charcoal filter on the fuel tank evaporator filter.

      “Zero emissions” is fine as it’s zero tailpipe emissions. The electricity mix can change, feasibly to remove all carbon, whereas you won’t do that from an internal combustion engine.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “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.

  • avatar

    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.

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