2015 BMW i3 Given REx-Change In Lexus CT200h Ad Scandal

It has all the ingredients needed to make professional Hollywood celebrity gossip columnist Perez Hilton swoon in anticipation: mistaken identity, secret past and of course, bucket-loads of post-production photoshop magic.

The subject? One of the stars of Lexus’ latest CT200h hybrid ad — the one we showed you yesterday — has been given a Rex swap.

Here's one of the shots with the filler cap left in. Can you see it?

Here’s one of the shots with the filler cap left in. Can you see it? (bottom right corner)

But this particular salacious piece of gossip isn’t about how one of the male stars of the Lexus CT200h “Dad-Chelor” ad was born with a different name. Nor is it that the bump shown at the start of the ad isn’t really a baby but a cheap theatre prop.

No, this is something even worse: the BMW i3 used in the ad to mock electric cars by needing to stop every 70 miles to recharge between Van Nuys and Las Vegas was actually a range-extended BMW i3 REx — a car that could have made the 280-mile trip just as easily as the CT200h Lexus was so keen to portray as superior.

And it was given a filoplasty — where its sticky-out filler cap has been digitally removed and replaced with smooth, shiny paintwork — by the ad’s post-production team.

The revelation comes courtesy of BMW i3 owner, plug-in advocate and Plug In America board member Tom Moloughney, whose sharp eyes noticed the BMW i3 in the ad seemed to have a little something extra that neither the human cast nor Lexus was keen on admitting. Something that he’s only too used to spotting, as he happens to own a BMW i3 REx.

We'd be upset if the car we were driving in had a range-extender we weren't using, too.

We’d be upset if the car we were driving in had a range-extender we weren’t using, too.

You see, the BMW i3 EV, with just a battery pack and electric motor to rely on for its motive power, has one filler flap, located on the right-hand rear quarter panel of the car. The BMW i3 REx has two: the electrical inlet on the rear right quarter panel, and a gas filler behind an identical flap on the car’s front right quarter panel. If you spot a BMW i3 in the street with two filler flaps, it’s a BMW i3 REx. Spot only one, and it’s a 100 percent electric car.

It seems that the folks at Lexus and Funny or Die! — who Lexus hired to produce the video — did at least understand that fact on a basic level. And in every external shot where we see the entire BMW i3, there’s no gas filler flap to be seen.

But in a couple of scenes, namely the ones involving close-up or three-quarter shots, the post-production team’s diligent efforts to eradicate the flap have failed. Pause the video just right, and the shame of the i3’s extra appendage is clearly visible. Either the car was really a REx all along, or more than one car was used in the ad.

Either way, the ad’s very purpose — to mock the lack of range of the pure electric BMW i3 — seems a little moot.

That BMW i3? It's actually a BMW i3 REx.

That BMW i3? It’s actually a BMW i3 REx.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’re shocked to see an ad agency and a car maker resort to such lows to advance their own agenda, yet we can’t help but wonder if the frames where the extra flap is clearly visible were left there on purpose by a pro-electric car member of the post-production team.

Either way, it’s a scandal that we feel will likely follow Lexus around for some time to come.

Transport Evolved would like to point out that its editorial team are in no way against range-extended vehicles, nor are we against REx-swaps. We feel it is sad however that we live in a world where REx vehicles cannot be celebrated for who they truly are, and call on our readers to respect those who feel the need to go through the long and painful process of a REx-swap. However, we also feel it appropriate to point out that there are plenty of cis-plugged cars out there who could have been used in the role, rather than using a REx-swapped model. 

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  • Esl1999 .

    To be honest, this ad is more a shot across the bow of BEVs as oppose to the BMW i3. Their assumption is that nobody really knows the ins and outs of the i3. Rex or not is moot, it’s all about ruining the perception of EV ownership. My main issue is the stupid tagline at the end of the commercial. So what is the way forward? Toyota says it’s fuel cells but Lexus says it’s conventional gas/petrol hybrid. A bit schizo if you ask me.

  • Surya

    I still feel like saying why your product is better than saying why an other product is supposedly inferior. And it helps if you use sound arguments. The whole thing is pretty much a disaster. If only it actually was funny.

  • Michael Thwaite

    Well spotted Tom!