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Advertising watchdog bans ‘misleading’ Nissan ads despite just four complaints from viewers

  • Nissan Qashqai ads banned over failure to make clear hybrid’s need for petrol
  • The ASA found that the ads did not make sufficiently clear the extent to which the car required petrol
  • Japanese brand says it is ‘disappointed’ with ruling

Time 8:02 am, October 18, 2023

Nissan has received a slap on the wrist from the UK’s advertising authority after the watchdog ruled the carmaker had mislead customers in TV ads.

Two adverts for the hybrid Qashqai have been banned, following a handful of complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The body found the ads failed to make ‘sufficiently clear’ the extent to which the model needed petrol to run and ordered that they not be broadcast again.

The first TV ad, which ran in May and September, opened with small text stating: ‘e-Power comprises a 100% electric motor-driven system, powered by a lithium ion battery and a petrol engine.’

It also featured stylised footage of a car driving through a city at night while a voiceover said: ‘Who said electrification can’t spark excitement when unplugged?’

The second, which only aired in June, included an additional closing shot depicting DC superhero The Flash running around two Nissan cars and leaving a trail of sparks in his wake with a voiceover stating: ‘Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail with e-Power. Get your own electrical superpower like The Flash.’

The ads were subject to complaints by just four viewers, who said that they did ‘not make the car’s source of power sufficiently clear’.

The ASA agreed with the claims and, following an investigation, stepped in to ban them from being shown again.

The watchdog said viewers would understand the ads to mean that the car used ;e-Power’, a new, electric technology that did not require it to be plugged in in the same way as electric-powered vehicles.

While the ad did not include any explicit claims in relation to the car’s environmental impact, the ASA said consumers were likely to understand that the car was a better choice for the environment than traditionally fuelled vehicles.

It’s ruling said: ‘Because the ads did not make sufficiently clear the nature of the vehicle’s power source and because it required petrol to power the electric motor, which would produce tailpipe emissions, we considered that the ads were also misleading in this regard.

‘We concluded that the ads did not make sufficiently clear the extent to which the car required petrol and were therefore misleading.’

It later added: ‘We told Nissan to ensure that their future ads made sufficiently clear the nature of a vehicle’s power source.’

In response to the ruling, Nissan said it had made clear that its e-Power range was neither hybrid nor fully electric but used a petrol engine and lithium-ion battery to power an electric motor which solely turned the wheels.

A spokesman for the Japanese brand said the firm was ‘disappointed’ by the ASA’s decision.

Nissan said: ‘We are disappointed with the ruling made by the ASA although of course we will respect their decision.

‘We remain fully committed to helping our customers understand the different technologies available to them, including hybrid, e-Power and full electric.

‘e-Power uses a petrol engine and a lithium-ion battery to power an electric motor.

‘The electric motor alone drives the wheels, providing a uniquely exciting technology that brings customers who are not quite ready for a fully electric vehicle as close to the excitement of EV driving as possible.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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