BMW “zero emissions” ad banned in UK

BMW’s i3: touted as “zero emissions” by BMW (UK).

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against BMW (UK) and a Facebook advertisement which claimed the company’s i3 car “really is a clean car and helps to give back to the environment”.

According to the ASA, the i3 has a “range extender” option which consists of a petrol engine and, while the car can be driven as “all electric”, any vehicle with a petrol engine cannot be described as “zero emissions”.

“Because cars which use petrol cannot be described as ‘zero emissions’ or as a ‘clean car’, and it was not clear from the ad that the claim was in relation to the electric battery model only, we concluded that the claims were misleading,” said ASA in a statement.

ASA also took issue with BMW’s claim that the i3 “helps to give back to the environment”.

“We considered the claim would be understood by consumers to mean that owning and driving the car had a net benefit on the environment taking into account its full life cycle… We did not consider that this was sufficiently clear in the ad and concluded that the claim was misleading.”

ASA concluded the advertising breached codes of conduct in “Misleading Advertising”, “Substantiation” and “Environmental Claims”, banning the ad and reminding BMW (UK) “to ensure that in future they made clear their environmental claims related to the all-electric vehicles only and not to make environmental claims about their products unless they held sufficient substantiation.”


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