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Lexus is at it again with EV attack ads, still doesn’t get it

Oh, Lexus. We know you are proud of those hybrids of yours, and we know your parent company (Toyota) does not think highly of battery electric vehicles. But this is not a race for political office.


Regular readers of this space – and followers of the EV industry in general – may recall back in May when Lexus posted a rather controversial video bashing electric vehicles. And more recently near the end of August, when the automaker brazenly persisted with its anti-EV rhetoric in a print ad found in the September issue of Wired magazine.

The first advertisement depicted (oddly) what appeared to be an Aerovironment DC fast charger, along with the not-so-subtle implication that any time an electric vehicle is charged the owner must sit around and wait for four hours. This appeared alongside a blatantly inaccurate video advocating for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that misrepresented the available hydrogen and EV fueling infrastructure.

Lexus eventually apologized and removed the videos, but it got even more aggressive when the ad reappeared in print form. The same DC fast charging station returned, this time with a circle describing the supposedly never-ending cycle of charging stress experienced by all EV drivers. Again, it implied that electric vehicle owners spend much of their lives either searching for charging stations or waiting for the car to charge.

They’re back!

And now Lexus is at it again, this time in a collaboration with the comedy outfit Funny or Die. The video in question (since pulled, though it resurfaced on YouTube) portrays a group of friends headed from Van Nuys, California, to – of course – Las Vegas for a “dad-chelor” party.

The dads split up, one group making the trek in a Lexus CT200h and the other in an all-electric BMW i3. (Lexus didn’t choose the range-extended i3 REx, obviously, because that would have rendered their argument moot). While the hybrid crew arrives without a refueling stop and gets the party started, the poor schlubs in the BMW have to stop four times to charge up for a “few hours” and crawl through the desert without air conditioning.

Aside from the fact that this trip would have actually made sense in the i3 REx, the whole video is just another unnecessary and misguided shot at battery electric vehicles. As we have argued before, electric vehicles in the i3’s league with 80-odd miles of range – the Nissan LEAF, VW e-Golf, Ford Focus Electric, etc. – are not intended to take 280-mile trips. Their purpose is for urban and suburban driving, with perhaps the occasional longer foray from home in regions with robust charging infrastructure. And they do their job exceptionally well.

To that point about charging infrastructure, we will grant that the i3 and its SAE Combo DC fast charging standard has a long way to go in terms of fast charging infrastructure. While a Nissan LEAF can be charged at over 600 CHAdeMO fast charge locations in the U.S., the number of CCS stations in the States still lingers in the dozens.

Get over it, Lexus

Yes, Lexus, most battery electric vehicles cannot go on road trips. That is fairly common knowledge. There is really no need to take a page from the attack ad strategy book of politicians just to kick dirt in the face of electric vehicles, especially when the ads send a very misleading message.

Are you, Lexus, feeling threatened by the success of the Tesla Model S, the one electric vehicle that can go 200 miles on a charge? Are you concerned about future long-range luxury EVs stealing precious market share while you stand on the sidelines and trumpet (perhaps) soon-to-be-obsolete hybrids and never-to-be-relevant fuel cells? That would certainly provide an incentive to continue producing these EV-bashing advertisements in an effort to spread misinformation and steer potential buyers away from battery electrics. But shame on you for doing so.


danwat1234 (not verified)    October 19, 2015 - 1:16AM

In reply to by Caleb Rinet (not verified)

Uh, no. Batteries are the future once lithium ion doubles in density or so. The well to wheels energy used in an electric car is a lot less than a hydrogen - electric car too.

John M B (not verified)    November 15, 2014 - 1:31AM

Get over it already? I drive my i3 BEV using the electricity generated on my roof -- meaning driving costs are NEXT TO NOTHING....that is the future!