Misleading Lexus ad trashes plug-in vehicles

Every automaker has its own electrification strategy. Tesla, Nissan and BMW are pushing pure EVs. GM and Ford have each put most of their chips on plug-in hybrids, while hedging their bets with a low-volume EV.

Toyota, and its luxury division Lexus, firmly believe hybrids are the way to go. Lexus has five hybrid models in its stable, and we’re sure that all are high-quality, reasonably fuel-efficient vehicles.

However, in a current online ad, Lexus portrays a conventional hybrid as something that’s superior to a plug-in vehicle, a dubious premise that the company attempts to support with a couple of highly misleading statements.

In the ad, an image of a public charger is accompanied by the words “Reserved for someone with four hours to kill,” and a picture of a shiny Lexus hybrid is paired with the slogan “No charging means more driving.”

The charger in the ad looks almost exactly like an AeroVironment DC fast charger (pictured below) that takes about 30 minutes (not four hours) to fully charge any EV that it is compatible with. And, while it’s true that the Level 2 type of charger does take about four hours for a full charge, any EV owner would be bewildered at the idea that they would need to sit around waiting for that to happen.

Most EV owners seldom need to stop at a public charging station. At least two studies (from Recargo and the EV Project) have already made clear that most charging takes place while the car owner is sleeping or working, and public chargers are almost always used for a quick top-up, not a full charge from empty. So no EV driver ever needs to have “four hours to kill” for charging.

Furthermore, the disingenuous Lexus ad seems to be trying to whip up a rivalry where none exists. EVs and hybrids are different products that appeal to people with different needs. If you have a frequent short commute, an EV is for you. If you make a lot of long trips, you buy a hybrid. Once a potential buyer understands how the different types of electrified vehicles work, the choice is usually quite clear.

Automakers should be trying to give consumers more facts and accurate information, not muddying the waters with falsehoods and misleading innuendos. There’s plenty of that sort of thing out there already.


Source: Lexus
AeroVironment DCFC image courtesy of AeroVironment, Inc.

  • ned_plimpton

    Dear Toyota/Lexus,

    Remember about decade ago when there were rumors and articles that a Prius battery dies after short few years and then the hybrid is useless? Remember how the rumors/articles were kind of based on some truth, but not accurate at all, and totally confusing for consumers? Remember how annoying and counterproductive that was?

    • disqus_lSZTklmvO1

      *bangs head* A-holes… 😛

  • Tom

    Wasn’t it Toyota that dodged the fact that some of their cars had “run away” issues and finally admitted that this had been going on for quite some time.

    Any company that does something like this will NEVER deserve me as a customer for I will always wonder what they are now lying about. (GM you listening?)

  • http://www.jerewindependentresearch.com LoneWolffe

    do you have links to the original ads? was having a hard time finding them on Lexus’ site.

  • PaulScott58

    This is pretty disgusting. Shame on Toyota. Akio Toyoda, shame on you for allowing this ad to be produced in your company’s name. Tesla will bury you in the long run.

  • Kevin Douglass

    I don’t sleep and I don’t work … just drive , drive, drive. Somebody in their marketing thought it was clever and maybe funny. Like they say, if you’re the only one laughing, it ain’t funny. Bad form Lexus 🙁

  • Jeff Christie

    Remember the Nissan LEAF ad that showed a hapless Volt owner putting gas in his car?

  • Matt Williams

    Yea because the Car Company that new there cars would kill people and then lied to cover it up shoudl be listened to.. ALL Toyota’s shoudl be banned form USA Streets. The Throttle Sticks and Kills all the People that Drive them.. Besides. Toyota is already behind the Curve.. Commit to EV or get out of the Car business.. Boycott Toyota for Bad Cars that Kill and Even Worse PR choices.

    • Shelley

      Look up the story on the Chevy Cobalt on CNBC..bad..many deaths.GM knew for years then managed a fix under the radar and shoveled sand all over their poop..

  • Mark Renburke

    Actually, fearful Lexus is losing customers forever to plug-ins (and “inferior” brands like the Chevy’s Volt) has got it backwards. Driving to the gas station is what’s inconvenient. Charging is usually done CONVENIENTLY at home while you sleep (from a regular outlet) and then CONVENIENTLY again where you are already going shopping, dining, etc. A charging spot is often a place you only park and charge at as long is convenient…not necessarily for 4 hours.

    • Katlyn

      The Volt sure doesn’t feel “inferior” to me, it’s 2 cars in one. All electric when you want it, and gas when you need it. I’ve driven 80% of my 37,000+ miles all electric. I regularly get 40+ miles per charge and didn’t have to tow it when I moved 750 miles away… I drove it like normal. Inferior my ass. Sorry, but I strongly disagree.

      • Mark Renburke

        I agree, (I’m a Volt driver too!:) I was try to state that Lexus thinks of Chevy as an “inferior” brand yet was/is still losing customers to it, hence the quotes. It’s fact that many Lexus, Audi, and BMW (3-series was #4 trade in 2012) owners traded in for a Volt and never looked back. Sorry for the misunderstanding, I updated my original post to make it more clear, hopefully! (I’ve got over 40,000 EV miles now, and just returned to my 50+ EV mile summer range 3 years running! 🙂

        • Katlyn

          Right on! No worries. 🙂

        • disqus_lSZTklmvO1

          Everyone has forgotten what quotation marks mean, now that we have all these nincompoops trying to use them to “emphasize” words that they “think” are “important” (inappropriate “quotation marks” used “ironically”).

          • GuySmiley

            Umm, I completely understood the OP, realising that he meant them as “scare quotes”. Here’s a real quote explaining what those are: “Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to imply that it may not signify its apparent meaning or that it is not necessarily the way the quoting person would express its concept… in a similar way to verbally prefixing a phrase with ‘so-called’. When referred to as ‘scare quotes’, the quotation marks are suggested to imply skepticism or disagreement with the quoted terminology.” All better?

        • Mark Renburke

          Funny to see these comments from 6 years ago! Then I thought getting to 40,000 EV miles was impressive – An update: Still driving the same ’12 Chevy Volt with the original battery going on 8 years and it still drives great. It now has over 159,000 miles.

    • Shelley

      I turned in my Lexus sedan for my LEAF. Did not even think about another Lexus because they had NO electric offering. End of discussion. I could not be happier.

      • Perry

        Congrats Shelley. I bought Leaf 2 1/2 years ago, and sold the Camry privately. It was a great market to sell the used car. 🙂

        Toyota has lost customers for life.

        I would really Tesla – one version of each. Model S, Model E and Model X

        Sedan, Economy & XrossOver…depending on my mood.

  • Mark Renburke

    Don’t believe Lexus. Driving electric is less expensive, more convenient, and more fun than you know. 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!


  • Turbofroggy

    OMFG. This makes me want to Supercharge my Tesla all the way to Lexus Northamerica Headquarters and do e HUGE SMOKEY burnout in their parking lot…

    • Greener

      Toyota (Lexus) is moving their North America headquarters from California to Texas. Go figure!

      • Shelley

        BIG MISTAKE..they are losing valuable employees from their Torrance facility..I guess that goes along with their mantra to build hydrogen cars (moving bombs if you ask me) instead of electric, with Texas being soo petroleum and all..that state hates Elon Musk and Tesla.. of course if they produce electric vehicles that would be in direct competition with their successful Prius line too..someone there is making some bad decisions.

  • Chris

    I have a Tesla Model S and NO ability to charge at home, not even a reachable 100V outlet. Even now I can manage in Vancouver using public Level 2 chargers without much inconvenience. Step 1: Find a public charger in an area you spend time regularly. Step 2: Plug in while you’re doing what you normally do. It’s really not that complicated. Yes, stations will be occupied more often as move plug-in EVS hit the streets, but my point is that if my situation works, then having a high powered charger at home, even a 50amp outlet will be even more convenient than getting gas 99% of the time.

  • Chris

    The truth is that most people’s daily driving habits can be met with a measly 110V outlet charging overnight, let alone a L2 or DC fast charge.

    • Mark Renburke

      I charge at 115v only 8 amps because after a year, 12 amps was just darn fast for my 34 mile (68 RT) commute. I do use the 12 amp quick charge at work though! 🙂

    • Shelley

      True Dat

  • SeattleTeslaGuy

    Toyota has the bet their future on Fuel Cell EVs. Since they are still many many years away from practicality (if ever), Toyota doesn’t had a competitive offering. When companies are in that situation, they often put up a smokescreen of FUD to hide the reality.

    Also, this ad series plays on public ignorance of how people charge their EVs, Ignorant people think that the charging model is the same as the ICE refueling model (public stations that you stop and wait at during your regular driving) when, in fact, the vast amount of charging is done while you are doing something else.

  • Mark L

    Note how it’s half in a handicap spot…

    • Shelley

      Gets my vote on #youparklikeanasshole.com

  • Frank

    Does this mean Toyota is dropping the plug in Prius?

  • vdiv

    The funny thing is this looks like the long term parking lot at an airport. Your car won’t have hours to kill, it will have days while you are enjoying the beach in Copacabana .

    Lexus hybrid drive, the proven way of the last decade.

    • Shelley

      I have already saved enough money with the purchase of my Leaf to go on a very nice vacation,while my car sits happy in the garage! Did I mention the first check up for the car is in a YEAR??

  • BetelgeuseOrion

    I am not lining up at the costco gas station for a minimum of 30 minutes every single week ever again, unless im traveling i never have to use a public charger, and if i do, its 30 minutes at the supercharger, no big deal

    • Perry

      When I went to Costco to open a new account & get the credit card, customer service person was promoting the 4% cash back on gasoline purchases on their Amex Card. I told her that benefit doesn’t help me, since, I drive an electric car – Nissan LEAF.

      Shouldn’t get another benefit in kind?

  • Greener

    Toyota would have never made the half ass designed Plug-In Prius if house-garage techs from California wouldn’t have shamed them into doing it. They protested at the gates of their headquarter building for plug-ins and when it was shown in “Who Killed The Electric Car”, they were gave in but only with a small battery with some 20 mile EV range. They could rule the world with EVs but they chose to stick to their old polluted ways. When Japan loses half their islands to sea level rise, then they will realize what they’ve done.

    • Marion Meads

      Japan will lose half of their islands to earthquakes and tsunamis alone, not due to sea level rise.

    • Joseph Boeke

      The 20 mile EV range is only if you drive downhill. Otherwise, you can plan on a <12 mile range via EV only.

  • BetelgeuseOrion


  • Marion Meads

    Well, you don’t live in a car and driving it 24 hours a day. You will have to go to sleep, go to work, play your sports, have a life, and so you will have to park your car. In fact, we use most of our cars for only about a couple of hours each day. The other 22 hours, the cars are parked. Parking your EV car while charging kills none of your time.

  • jstack6

    Toyota-Lexus is on their 6th generation hybrids and still can’t get over 50 mpg while electrics get 100+
    They can’t live with out gas and OIL and still need a transmission, belts, exhaust etc.

    • Shelley

      As a LEAF owner I say: what’s oil?What’s a belt? Hehehe…

  • jstack6

    They still burn gas and don’t get over 50 mpg.

  • steve richards

    Lexus is right. No-one buys charging stations – the market was spoiled rotten by Blink and Chargepoint/the infrastructure is not there. Hybrid is a smart and proven business/Prius is the #1 car in California – and only elites and elite wanna-bee’s drive pure electric.

    • Benjamin Nead

      You don’t need to buy a ‘charging station’ for an electric car, Steve. Most people already have access to one: a 120VAC outlet. What you and the ignorant marketing people who are dissing EVs still don’t get is that you can plug in and recharge at night, when you’re home and asleep. Do you have a gas pump in your carport?

      Partially agree with you that Blink overbuilt Level 2 (240VAC) public charging EVSE infrastructure, when it should have been concentrating on Level 3 (440VDC) quick charge terminals. But, when it comes to decommission an EVSE, it’s a helluva lot simpler and less messy than digging up a gasoline fuel tank, leaking underneath an abandoned filling station.

      Hybrids may have been a proven business, but it was always going to be interim technology until car companies got brave enough to offer PHEVs and pure electrics.
      Non-plug-in hybrids enjoy about 12 years of market penetration, which is why they are currently the #1 car in California. I wouldn’t bank on nostalgia (as Toyota/Lexus seems to be doing) for too much longer, though.

  • Lou Infante

    if Lexus feels it needs to attack the EVs they actually compete with (Mainly Tesla) I would only want to know what are the deficiencies in their own product that make them resort to negative advertising. And to do it in what is a misleading way results in people questioning their integrity. I am really surprised that anyone at Lexus with a brain in their head would have approved taking their brand into “Negative” ad territory. That is a slippery slope. What is the point?

    • Shelley

      My Lexus ES350,which I traded in for a LEAF, had a constant smell of gasoline in the car. Google said the car had problems with the gas pump. When I took the car to the dealer, they waived me off. Now I am waiving them off, too..permanently.

  • Julian Cox

    OK so California has to pay $200 million for hydrogen charging infrastructure to help Toyota / Lexus to solve the air pollution problem created by Electric Vehicles. Something does not smell right here boys.

  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    Totally rediculous what these company officials let pass by without thinking and do not see that they do harm to their company. It’s the same arrogance that Volkswagen officials and responsibles had shown. This makes NO confidence in such products. By the way; by when do they think at Toyota and LEXUS to make serious automatic gearboxes for serious cars? I never bought and will never buy any LEXUS just because of that noisy CVT. I prefer cars with acceleration but no additional NOISE-Effect, e.g. TESLA. And furthermore back to LEXUS. First they where expensive copies for rich and old American people going to the library once a day at 30 miles an hour and now presently looking somewhat strange anyhow. I am definitely no Darth Vader fan…