A radio advertisement for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV that included details of the advertiser’ dealership stated:
“What is the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV? It’s an electric car but not just that. An electric car with powerful acceleration. An electric car with 4 x 4 control and with more than a 600km range, it's an electric car that's ready for adventure. That’s what the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is. It’s electric and more. Book your test drive at Dan Seaman Motors Forge Hill on the Kinsale road today.”
The complainant considered that that claim to have a 600km range was misleading as the car was a hybrid vehicle, whose electric battery range was approximately 45km. The complainant also noted that the advertisement had referred to the vehicle as a PHEV (plug in hybrid electric vehicle) while referring to the benefits of an electric vehicle, without clarifying to the listener what a PHEV is.
The advertisers stated that the advertisement was part of a wider Mitsubishi Ireland campaign and that their contact details had been tagged at the end of the advertisement. They said that they were required to only air advertising provided to them under the Mitsubishi marketing and brand guidelines and that they had brought the matter to the attention of Mitsubishi Ireland.
The advertisers outlined the response from Mitsubishi Ireland:
Mitsubishi Ireland stated that they were committed to full compliance with the provisions of the Code and that it was never their intention to mislead consumers. They said that the advertisement stated that their Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) had a range of 600km. They said that the range of their Outlander PHEV was 653km which was the combined range of both the battery power and the capacity of the fuel tank. They said that they had investigated and reviewed the relevant advertisement and regrettably acknowledged that the advertisement could be considered to be misleading. They stated that they were pulling the advertising from circulation immediately.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the response from both the dealer and the brand.
The Complaints Committee noted that the range claim in the advertisement was a combination of both the internal combustion engine and the electric battery without clarifying that the range was the combined range. The Committee considered that, while calling the car a PHEV, the advertisement’s reference to the car as “an electric car” in combination with the range, implied that the range was for the electric battery.
The Committee noted that the advertisement referred to PHEV without setting out in full what this meant. They also noted that the advertisement had referred five times to ‘electric’ without qualification. They considered that the advertisement could mislead consumers to understand that the car was an electric vehicle rather than a hybrid electric vehicle.
While the Complaints Committee welcomed the advertisers’ decision to remove the advertisement from circulation, they considered that the advertisement had been misleading and was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
As the advertisement had been removed, no further action was necessary.