Lexus Hybrid Ad Declares War on Electric Cars, Ruffles Feathers

“While some are content to spend hours waiting at a charging station or driving in search of alternative fuel, we define progress differently.”

It's war: Lexus takes on the Nissan LEAF in its latest ad campaign.

It’s war: Lexus takes on the Nissan LEAF in its latest ad campaign.

That’s according to Toyota’s premium brand Lexus, whose latest ad campaign for its hybrid range of sedans and SUVs takes a direct swing at any type of car which plugs in.  Top of its list is the Nissan LEAF, currently the world’s best selling electric car.

It features front and centre at the start of Lexus’ new TV ad campaign.

In the ad, we see what looks like an Areovironment rapid DC quick charging station (but fitted with a slow charging plug), followed by a close-up of the LEAF’s charge port. As someone plugs in a Level 2 charge cable (not the weirdly rendered frankenstein DC quick charger-meets slow charging station we saw first,) a superimposed graphic shows an iconic battery empty flashing sign, and a countdown timer which starts ticking down from four hours when the car is plugged in.

“Some advancements in alt fuel technology actually hold you back,” the voice over tells us. “Lexus hybrid drive however, has been moving forward for almost ten years straight,” it continues.

What follows is a smug overview of Lexus’ hybrid achievements over the years, including the fact that its cars now get up to 42 miles per gallon, saving an estimated 300 million gallons of gas. While it doesn’t say so, Lexus then alludes to the recyclability of many electric cars, asserting that it too is up to 90 percent recyclable and uses many new eco-conscious plant-based products in its construction.

The Lexus hybrid drive system, we’re told, is future proof, and will work with whatever fuel technology you throw at it, finishing with a claim that Lexus is “the proven way forward.”

Aside from implying that electric cars take a long time to recharge — and more importantly that the time spent charging them is wasted — Lexus manages to really confuse itself over electric vehicle technology, since in both its video and its accompanying print ads it displays what we think is a mock-up of a public rapid charging station (fitted with a slow-charging plug), as the basis to bemoan the ‘slow’ charging of electric cars.

Most rapid charge stations of course, can recharge a car like the Nissan LEAF from empty to 80 percent full in a little over 30 minutes.

Not the four hours ‘average recharge time’ quoted in the campaign.

Lexus makes itself look stupid though when it shows a rapid DC charge station, which only takes 30 minutes on average to recharge a car.

Lexus makes itself look stupid though when it shows what looks like a rapid charging station, which only takes 30 minutes on average to recharge a car.

Then there’s the whole misunderstanding about charging time. Most electric car charging occurs at night, when electricity is cheap, plentiful and no one needs to use the car. Moreover, most cars on the market today are capable of carrying out an entire days’ worth of travel on a single charge without any need for public charging.

The rapid charging stations shown? They’re just used occasionally, when electric car owners make longer trips.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’re a little perplexed that Lexus executives gave the go-ahead for such an ad, especially since parent company Toyota relies on the granddaddy of all electric car makers — the venerable Tesla Motors — to make the electric drivetrain and battery pack for its reluctantly-built all-electric RAV4 EV compliance car.

But, we note, there’s no mention of Tesla nor its 300+ mile Tesla Model S luxury sedan anywhere in the ad campaign. Maybe that’s why.

One thing is absolutely clear however: if Lexus is targeting the Nissan LEAF — car which isn’t even in the same class as any of the Lexus luxury hybrids — and publicly trying to fuel anti-EV sentiment and range anxiety, it must be pretty darned scared of electric cars.

And if that’s true, it means one thing.

Electric cars are mainstream, here to stay, and ruffling all the right feathers.


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  • Matt Beard

    But that “rapid DC charge station” has a type-1 AC plug.


    Very clumsy of lexus/toyota I cant understand how they can get it so wrong .I thought only Top Gear pulled stunts like this. Still up side is they see EVs as a threat to their market share !

  • WeaponZero

    The goal of the Lexus brand has always been to catch up with the luxury of a Nissan. lol. I mean it looks like they are insulting their own brand when comparing a non-luxury EV with their “luxury hybrid”.nnThat said, since they used a quick charge station and showed it charging slow. The ad will probably be pulled due to deception violation by the FTC

  • vdiv

    It is true, the Leaf is not in the same class as the Lexus “luxury” hybrids.nnThey apparently have no class.

    • Mark Renburke

      I would say the target of this ad is not Nissan/the LEAF but more about preventing any existing customers or potential customers from even looking at or even considering the Chevy Volt (and pre-emptively new cars like the BMW i-3) It’s fact that thusands of Lexus (hybrids) have been traded in on Volts over the past few years, right behind the BMW 3-series. This is becaus ethe VOlt offers ggod torque and handling like a Lexus, but will get at least double the long term gas mileage on average…not to mention the daily all-electric premium drive experience.nnBUt they show the LEAF as an easy “straw man” because it does require charging (unlike the Volt with a range extender; if they showed that their ad would be even more wideley panned as deceptive) But the also don’t want to give ANY additional air time to the Volt so that’s another reason to not picture it (nor the i3 nor Tesla) Just luck with this lame, deceptive strategy. How many of your customers are really that stupind? I guess you are about to find out! 🙂

  • Mark Renburke

    Toyota (Lexus): Take note, you are not going to win this propaganda war you started. Informed consumers (growing in numbers and not looking back) will likely choose an electric car over a hybrid or gasoline-only. Here’s a brand new one-minute myth-busting video on how an electric car can save you money, time, and is simply fun to drive!nn

  • Richard Glover

    Hello Nikki, Iu2019m killing two birds with one stone here.nnIn comment on yesterdays TFTD I see no reason why all ev shouldnu2019t go the way of vacuum cleaners (hoovers). So Nissan can have a Juke Leaf, Micra Leaf, etc. and as I very much would like Lexus to produce an all electric CT200, they should call it a Lexus Leaf.nnNow doesnu2019t that sound good?

  • Surya

    “Super ultra low emissions”… erm, what? Lower is not the same as super ultra low!

    • CDspeed

      And not nearly as good as, zero.

    • David Cooke

      Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (SULEV) are a particular criteria pollutant tailpipe certification, and (at least some of) the Lexus hybrids meet that. They also actually count as PZEVs under CA’s ZEV regulations.

      • Surya

        If the Lexus cars qualify, the name doesn’t match the definition!nnBut thanks for clarifying.

  • CDspeed

    I’m not saying it will anytime soon, but if the world ran out of oil tomorrow Lexus’s hybrids would grind to a halt just like any other gasoline or diesel powered car.

  • Dani Silva

    I really feel Toyota and Lexus are connected to the oil industry. Toyota has the power and the money to make electric a mainstream car, but instead they prefer to bet on Hybrids or Hydrogen cars… and both options keep giving money to oil companies, who will be happy to sell you (at high price) Hydrogen for your car.nnBattery is the only really liberating technology, and you even have the capacity to install energy generators at home and be self-sufficient (it’s expensive, but feasible).nnSo, for now, Tesla all the way!!!!