BMW Rapped for Zero Emissions Claim in British Ad

July 28, 2010
An ad claiming "100% joy, zero percent emissions" is misleading.

A second BMW advertisement has been banned for claims about the low levels of carbon dioxide emissions produced by its cars, Britain's advertising watchdog said on July 28.

The Advertising Standards Agency said the German luxury car maker's newspaper ad claiming that the BMW Concept ActiveE electric car as "100% joy, zero percent emissions" was likely to mislead.

It said the advertisement breached their codes on substantiation, truthfulness and environmental claims and should not reappear in its current form. The ad said: "Thanks to its electrifying performance and zero carbon dioxide emissions when driving, the ActiveE redefines BMW EfficientDynamics."

A reader challenged whether the claims "zero percent emissions" and "zero carbon dioxide when driving" were misleading, because they understood that the car needed to be charged with electricity from the national power network, which would result in the production of emissions.

BMW said its headline claim was explained lower down in the ad with the phrase: "Zero carbon dioxide emissions when driving," limiting it to when the car was in use and not across its whole life cycle.

But the ASA upheld the complaint, saying the claims were "likely to mislead."

"We considered that the claim 'zero percent emissions' was likely to be interpreted by readers to mean that the car's use would not result in the production of emissions," it said.

"We told BMW not to repeat claims that stated or implied that an electric vehicle would produce zero emissions in use."

Last week, the watchdog rapped BMW for claiming its latest Z4 Roadster model had low levels of CO2 emissions, when in fact it was only low for a BMW, not all cars. It ruled the ad could not be used again in its current form.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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