An advert for Vauxhall promoting its electric Ampera model has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority over claims that it was misleading viewers over how far the car could travel on electricity alone.
The advert, created by McCann Erickson Communications House, received three complaints over the on-screen text that stated "Ampera, up to 360 mile range".
Vauxhall parent company General Motors responded by telling the ASA that the car could be driven electrically for 360 miles, explaining that it was capable of travelling for 50 miles on a fully charged battery before its ‘range extender’ took over.
The internal combustion engine would also act as an on-board generator for the electric motor, which would take the remaining distance using electricity generated for the electric motor from fuel tank.
It was also claimed that the 360-mile range was an understatement of the range achieved by the vehicle in tests.
Vauxhall also stated that it aimed to communicate the selling point of the Ampera’s fuel tank generating electricity in order to travel longer distances. It also highlighted on-screen text, which read; "Comparison based on electric vehicles and extended range electric vehicles driven electrically at all times, even when an additional power source is generating electricity".
Clearcast also said that that it had worked with a motoring consultant in assessing the claims, who advised that it was accurate to make the 360-mile range claim, leading Clearcast to believe that the advert was not misleading.
Despite this, the ASA upheld the complaints, despite the qualification, which it claimed was ‘ambiguous’.
“We considered that throughout the ad the emphasis was on the fact that the car was being driven electrically, and that most viewers would not understand that the car was in some circumstances being powered by electricity generated with a petrol engine. The ad promoted an innovative product which many viewers would not immediately understand and we therefore considered that it would need to explicitly state that the car had a petrol engine. Because it did not clearly explain how the vehicle worked in extended-range mode, we concluded that the ad was misleading,” read the ASA ruling.