Plug In America Calls Lexus Out on Pro H2, Anti EV Ads. Lexus Apologizes

It’s nice to be apologized to, especially when the person who wrongs you is doing so based on misinformation, prejudice and ulterior motives.

One of the Lexus ad campaigns which got itself into trouble with Plug In America

One of the Lexus ad campaigns which got itself into trouble with Plug In America

But that’s exactly what happened after Plug In America, a national U.S. non-profit electric car advocacy group called out Japanese automaker Toyota for a series of ads produced for its Lexus brand, ads which some say are perpetuating myths and misinformation about plug-in vehicles.

Lexus apologized.

Last week, we showed you just one of many new Lexus ads produced to promote its range of gasoline electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In each, Lexus painted its own technology as being far superior to competitors vehicles, including those with all-electric drivetrains.

Calling its technologies “the proven way,” Lexus painted electric cars as being boring, slow, and taking hours to recharge in its pro-hybrid ad. In another video on the same microsite, it triumphed the twenty states with hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, comparing it to what it claimed were only thirty seven states with plug-in car charging infrastructure.

If that wasn’t enough, as Autobloggreen reported at the time, Lexus even tried to paint electric cars as having a massive carbon footprint due to the power generation mix used to power them.  At the same time, it failed to mention the carbon footprint of hydrogen production.

Lexus' ads even tried to make electric cars appear more polluting than its cars too.

Lexus’ ads even tried to make electric cars appear more polluting than its cars too.

In an official statement directed towards Lexus, Plug In America was suitably sarcastic:

“Hey, Toyota, the 1990s called. They want their outdated anti-EV attack ad back. Plug-in electric vehicles charge while you’re sleeping at home, far more convenient than making a trip to a gas station and coming away smelling like carcinogens. Driving on electricity costs about one fifth what it costs to drive the average gas car and about a third what it costs to drive the most efficient hybrid. An electric drive has smooth, instant acceleration which can’t be matched by any gasoline engine. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone driving a Toyota RAV4 EV.”

We’re not sure if it was Plug In America’s scathing retort to the Lexus ads, the massive publicity the ads generated, or the backlash from existing plug-in fans and Toyota owners, but Lexus (and thus its parent company Toyota) wants to clear the air.

According to official Lexus spokesperson Moe Durand, Lexus is reviewing all of the offending ad content, which was produced by ad agency Team One. While Lexus hasn’t confirmed the source of the information cited in its ads, it has promised to ‘alter and adjust’ any ad content which is factually incorrect after it has reviewed all available information. 

It just goes to show: advocacy works.


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  • Surya

    Unfortunately the damage is probably done. People who are not critical or well informed and have seen these ads, will probably accept them as fact, and the apology is too little, too late.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Yeah, it’s a shame that you can’t get some redress, like, for example, Toyota promoting the RAV4EV on the front page!

  • pnwfemale

    I read that Lexus apologized; but, where is the apology?

  • Jay Donnaway

    Where’s that apology? Their propaganda website, is still leading with Anti-EV junk.