Lexus Defends Anti-EV Ad – Says “Life With An EV” Has “Challenges” And “Uncertainties”

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 40

Lexus' Anti-EV Ad

Lexus’ Anti-EV Ad

Lexus refuses to right its wrong.

We at InsideEVs have shined a light on Lexus now on numerous occasions for its untruthful anti-EV advertising, but rather than admit to wrongdoing, Lexus is choosing to go on the defensive.

Lexus spokesman Brian Bolain told AutoblogGreen this in regards to its anti-EV ad campaign:

“The ad was merely intended to paint a picture of life with a hybrid, which is basically no different from life with a traditional gas-powered vehicle, versus life with an EV, which can have challenges or at least uncertainties.

“In other words, at its core, the ad’s message was that a consumer could participate in driving a vehicle with advanced technology today, without sacrifice or change in habit.”

In all truthfulness, Lexus is shooting itself in the foot here, so to say.  Eventually, Lexus will sell electric vehicles and when it does, what will Lexus then say of these anti-EV ads?  We were wrong.  We doubt Lexus will offer up that comment, but we all know that the day is coming soon when Lexus will regret these ads, so why continue to insist that there’s nothing wrong with these anti-EV ads?

So for those of you interested in EVs today…Here’s a question for you.  When Lexus finally enters the plug-in vehicle segment, will you consider buying a plug-in Lexus?  Or will you remember these anti-EV ads and cross Lexus off your shopping list forever?

Source: AutoblogGreen

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40 responses to "Lexus Defends Anti-EV Ad – Says “Life With An EV” Has “Challenges” And “Uncertainties”"

  1. Alex says:

    I drive a Leaf for over one year, and i don’t wan’t any LEXUS!!! So which Tesla driver should wan’t a Lexus, no one. Lexus is old technic like Toyota.

  2. kdawg says:

    I like Steve’s infographic. I think someone should make one showing a gas pump then a Lexus and then listing all the disadvantages of the gas only car. It wouldn’t be too hard, but I don’t have time today.

    1. FSJ says:

      There are two ways to approach that. One is to start from scratch and make a list of disadvantages specific to the ICE condition. The other is just to modify the existing list. I went to do that, and I discovered that the Lexus Ad, as written, applies just as well to ICE vehicles. So if we assume we are talking about a longish range drive, and not a city drive where range and refueling options are not limited for EV nor ICE,then here’s my take on the ICE version of the Ad:

      1. Closely monitor fuel status using only tiny non-linear analog gauge of unknown accuracy, and vague information in the manual about the true usable fuel left when the idiot light comes on.

      2. Turn of the A/C and slow down to conserve fuel.

      3. Pray for good signage along the road to indicate a suitable gas station before you run out, since there is really no good, well known, community supported Ap nor in-car software/real time data feed for finding gas stations and assessing their current status and suitability.

      4. Get lost searching for gas station that is much father from the highway, or too deep in the town’s one way street complex than you expected.

      5. Experience a surge in range anxiety.

      6. Finally find a gas station that is open, has functioning pumps, functioning credit cars swipers, the type of gas you need (ie low ethanol, diesel, etc.), etc.

      7. Fill up car with expensive, dangerous, stinky, carcinogenic, polluting liquid imported from hostile nations. Pump shut-off malfuntion causes overflow, cascading fuel (a powerful solvent & skin damager) all over your paint job and hands. The stench cannot be removed, and the cabin fills with the noxious odor causing lightheadedness while driving.

      8. Repeat. The fill only took 5 minutes, but the social, political, and environmental consequences last for years.

      Yes, I was intentionally exaggerating some aspects, as Ad men are prone to do themselves.

      1. Brian says:

        +8

        I agree with all points.

  3. EdoTesla says:

    Best of luck to Lexus when they start selling fuel cell vehicles!

  4. pjwood says:

    If Lexus does Honda’s series Atkinson hybrid one better, and achieves 50+ mpgs (City), with mid-size luxury, I think the fight will be brought to PHEV. We’re talking miss-informing the non-PHEV crowd. Pretty easy.

    I was seeing these spots lead ELR Youtube videos, another of Toyota’s targets.

  5. Thomas says:

    I must admit I go “Buuh” every time I hear someone mention a Lexus.

    I’d forgive them in a heartbeat if they came out with a really great EV, but bring up the ad every chance I got.

  6. Josh says:

    The ad shows that they are desperate. It also shows that they don’t have any plug-ins even close to being on their lots.

    With Tesla, BMW, and soon (maybe) Audi all offering plug-ins, it could be a long few years for Lexus.

    1. sven says:

      Desperate? You’re delusional. Lexus is enjoying record sales this year, on top of record sales last year, on top of record sales the year before that. In calendar year 2012 sales were up 23%; in calendar year 2013 sales were up 12.2%; 2014 sales from January to August are up 16%.

      August 2014 sales chart:
      http://corporatenews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/tms+august+2014+sales+chart.download

      2013 sales chart:
      http://corporatenews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/tms+december+2013+sales+chart.download

        1. pete g says:

          Oh good you have toyotas us sales charts out already. Than you already now prius sales are down 10% this year.

      1. Josh says:

        Thanks for providing the numbers. Unfortunately they don’t break out the hybrid models sales separately.

        The CT is only a hybrid and it has gained back the sales it lost last year. I am not sure how much we can gather from that.

        The LS is the one that competes head to head with the Model S. It was up big last year, when US sales of Model S surged. But it is down big this year. That might people choosing Model S or the new S550.

        The advertising is suggest they are trying to steer buyers away from plug-in models towards their standard hybrids. There has to be a reason.

  7. David Murray says:

    You have to wonder who the target audience is for these commercials? Are they trying to win over the small base of EV enthusiasts to their hybrid cars? Yeah, right.. Good luck with that. Are they trying to win over regular ICE drivers to their hybrid line? If so, that makes much more sense as those customers will be much easier to convince and there are a LOT more of them. But if that is the case, why make such a foolish ad?

    1. +1 Great point David.

      “Going Negative” is something political consultants recommend when you’re behind in the polls and have nothing to lose.

      It is an incredibly foolish strategy for an automaker, especially against a “competitor” which currently holds less than 1% market share.

      In Silicon Valley, trying to kill off a nascent competitor is called “knifing the baby”

      Classy, Lexus. Really classy.

    2. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

      No, the EV buyers of today are mostly true believers (aka early adopters). Lexus won’t FUD them back to gas. Their target audience is the mainstream consumers who like to think they are green but really don’t want to make sacrifices. They are the ones that will make or break the EV revolution. There is pretty good evidence that in the high end of the auto market, EVs are winning. In many upscale neighborhoods, Teslas are the car to buy. I live in one of those places and out of 100 families, there are 6 Tesla owners. The Tesla is considered the smart choice. Watch this repeated at the 35-40K price point when a 200 mile EV is available.

    3. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

      This is clearly a response to Tesla beating Lexus (and every other manufacturer) in the high-end luxury car market in the US. The target audience is prospective Tesla buyers. The message is intended to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) and get the prospective Tesla buyer to compromise and get a Lexus hybrid instead.

      Of course, in order to do that they that to blur distinctions between electric cars (no, the Tesla doesn’t take 4 hours to charge at a supercharger, nor does the LEAF at a ChaDemo, but of course this is true of *some* electric cars). They hope that the prospective Tesla buyer concludes this is true of Teslas and doesn’t bother doing research.

      The part that bothers me most about this is the stupidity about turning off the radio to conserve power. The radio uses so little electricity that the net gain in range in a single charge by not using the radio is probably measured in a few feet. When they get facts that wrong and don’t bother to correct them then we can safely call them intentional liars.

      1. David Murray says:

        The radio part doesn’t surprise me at all. I have been asked about that many times by ICE drivers. I’ve discovered that most people really have no idea how much power their appliances use. I work in IT and constantly deal with people’s battery backup under the desk having problems only to find they’ve plugged a space heater into it. When I explain the problem they say something like “it was just a heater, it doesn’t use that much power. I didn’t plug my iphone into it.” So they clearly believe that an iPhone requires more power than a heater.

  8. Richard Gozinya says:

    Doesn’t CARB have some regulation requiring zero emission vehicles if you sell over a certain amount of cars? Hydrogen’s a long, long ways off, and if they want to continue selling in California (Something everybody wants to do, it’s too huge a market) Then you need an electric in your lineup. Toyota, and Lexus, are being very short-sighted.

    1. Josh says:

      That is a complicated answer because there are multiple levels of credits and the %s increase over time. 2018 is a big step up in credit requirements.

      Currently Toyota (this covers Lexus too) gets their credits through the sales of the Plug-in Prius and the RAV4 EV. Plug-in Prius sales will continue, but the RAV4 EV will be sold out by the end of this year.

      Next year Toyota will offer a FCEV sedan to get satisfy their requirement for the top level credits. RAV4 EV gave them 3 credits per vehicle and the FCEV sedan will net them 7 credits per vehicle. And if they fall short, they can always just purchase credits from Tesla or Nissan.

      I wrote a piece about the Toyota EV situation awhile back. There are more details about the credit system in the comments. http://insideevs.com/opinion-toyota-really-wanted-launch-higher-volume-ev-fcev/

  9. John Hansen says:

    Toyota/Lexus stopped innovating at least ten years ago. They’re coasting on their reputation from the 1990’s now. They’re following the exact same trajectory as GM, just twenty years later.

    Here’s their long-term business plan:

    – Step 1: Produce great cars for a while.

    – Step 2: Ride on their reputation for a decade or two.

    – Step 3: Focus on large profitable vehicles while letting smaller unprofitable vehicles wither (the Corolla is the worst in class now).

    – Step 4: Lose young buyers to cheaper more trendy cars from Korea and US.

    – Step 5: Lose older more affluent buyers (who were faithful because of their experiences from an earlier period) as they stop buying cars in their older age.

    – Step 6: Enter a desperate phase of unsuccessfully trying to reinvent themselves.

    1. pete g says:

      +1

      – Step 7: Sell off your factories 1 by 1 to Tesla

    2. Scramjett says:

      +1

      They already lost me. The Prius was my first Toyota and will be my last. Their cars have gone down in quality and are boring as **** to drive. Driving a Toyota on Highway 1 in California is like driving with an elephant on your back.

      I don’t think I’ll ever get a Toyota again (a really nice compact sedan is the Mazda 3, upscale features, great performance, excellent safety and reliability).

  10. JRMW says:

    “When Lexus finally enters the plug-in vehicle segment, will you consider buying a plug-in Lexus?”

    I’ve said this before, but my first car was a stripped down Toyota Tercel that didn’t even have a passenger side mirror or a radio. Today I drive the Lexus RX330.

    Due to Toyota’s ads, I doubt I’ll ever buy a Toyota product again. Period. I also hope they sell ZERO of their FCVs bringing them massive losses and personal shame.

    I’ve written their corporate headquarters to tell them so.

    Our other car is the Infiniti G35x (AWD). Nissan’s work in the EV world has meant two things
    1) I looked at Nissan, a brand I would never have considered before.
    and
    2) Tesla and Infiniti will be the top two luxury brands I’ll look at for the next 10-20 years. Along with BMW and VW/Audi who I think are making good-faith efforts.

    In the past I ran screaming from GM. But the Volt has brought me to their car lots. If it came in AWD I would buy the Volt now. I would for sure buy an AWD GM EV or PHEV.

    I had forgotten that Mitsubishi even made cars. Now they have the car I lust after (the Outlander PHEV).

    To me, making these EVs and PHEVs isn’t just about selling EVs and PHEVs. It’s about who is forward thinking and who is a dinosaur.

    1. Scramjett says:

      Totally agree with you on all points. I never owned a Nissan until the Leaf (though my wife had a ’96 Sentra before I bought her a Prius). I also would never consider a GM until the Volt (and I was still skeptical for a few years after, though I’ve turned around) though I don’t think I’d consider anything else from them that does not use the Voltec drive-train.

      Going forward, I’m looking at Tesla with increasing interest (the Model III especially), and will also be looking at a Volt (if the specs are right) or the Outlander PHEV. I’m even open to other PHEV options (though Outlander looks like the way to go for now). I never even considered Mitsubishi until now.

      I forgave Toyota for the poor performance of the Prius back in 2007 when we bought it since it was a full redesign. However, they’ve had a full redesign and refresh, plus one pending and in all indications, they are still crippling electric motor performance in the name of “efficiency” (by this I mean that the engine pops on every time you sneeze, even with the PiP). Add to that the ridiculous FCV, and I’m pretty much done with Toyota. Maybe in 20 or 30 years when they get their act together, I’ll reconsider.

      1. Scramjett says:

        Just to be clear, the full redesign I first talk about is the 2004 Gen II. The “full redesign” I’m referring to since we bought the car is the 2010 Gen III and the refresh is the 2012 refresh.

    2. pete g says:

      At zero sales for the Toyota FCV. That would mean it outsells both the prius C and prius V, and sales are about equal to the yaris making it another Toyota success story.

  11. Talon says:

    Minor Point:

    How many times does someone need to download an app to locate charging stations? Surely once is enough!

  12. Bill Howland says:

    Lexus will have to increase their value, and have a plug-in model since most likely every vehicle I buy in the future will be plug-in-able.

    Lexus (and parent Toyota’s) ‘irrational exhuberance’ for Hydrogen powered fuel cells, is a big strategic mistake. Yes, California and the West Coast of the US in general may actually get a state and federally subsidized “hydrogen highway”. But east coast sales matter also, and while there are more and more EV’s every day around here (and, also our Canadian Friends in Southern Ontario), I just don’t see any enthusiasm for this latest technological DUD.

    Similar to the supposed “Nuclear Renaisance”, Babcock and Wicox recently decreased its investment in its SMR (Small Module Reactor) project from $100 million to $15 million and laid off 100 workers.

    The basic problem? No Utilities want them, and those that ‘thought they did’ cancelled their orders, the latest being a Utah cooperative.

    I’m thick skinned enough not to be bothered in the slightest by the Lexus ads, and it is very truthful that Early Adopters in anything have to put up with annoyances. As an example of this, last weekend at the “Drive Electric” event at Syracuse, NY (about 180 miles from home), I wisely ‘precharged’ my Roadster at a ChargePoint in a subburb for 5 1/2 hours, thinking that the worst could happen at the event and that I wouldn’t be able to charge at all.

    Well, the ‘worst’ happened: Some ‘great brain engineer or electrician’ put the Nema 14-50 outside outlet on a hottub style groundfault. Since Roadsters always put a transient GF on during negatiation, I was by definition unable to use it, and of course, it took a bit of an act of congress to get the inside breaker reset. So next year I’ll see if I can make other arrangements. So the Lexus ad is similarly accurate, but then that’s just advertising..

    When the Lexus vehicle comes out, EV manufacturers will be able to complain about.

    1). The high retail cost of H2.

    2). The cost of fuel cell replacement.

    3). The high initial cost of the vehicle with no mitigating low fuel cost (the one advantage an EV usually enjoys).

    4). Difficulty in refuelling if you don’t live on the ‘hydrogen highway’, which, most of us don’t, and never will.

    1. JRMW says:

      When the FCV comes out, I think I might make an ad that says

      1. Closely monitor fuel status since there’s almost nowhere you can refuel your car.

      2. No app needed to find Hydrogen station, because your state probably doesn’t have one. Waste your fuel driving to the airport, and then fly your car to California so that you can use one of their 50 or so stations

      3. Once car flown to California, waste more of your hydrogen driving from the airport to the nearest rare hydrogen station

      4. Hope the Hydrogen station has hydrogen, because each station can only fuel a few cars per day. Pay more for your hydrogen than you would for electricity or gas.

      5. Hope the hydrogen station doesn’t explode, like it did in Rochester in 2010.

      6. Drive car back to airport, to be flown back to your state.

      7. Pay higher taxes so that government can spend millions of dollars per station, far more than a gas station or rapid charger costs.

      8. Repeat.

      1. Scramjett says:

        +8

    2. mike w says:

      Car and Driver test drove a Chevy Equinox FCV. They also had problems filling the tank

      http://mobilehotspot.com/mobile-broadband-by-t-mobile/

  13. Kyle Cuzzort says:

    “The ad was merely intended to paint a picture of life with a hybrid, which is basically no different from life with a traditional gas-powered vehicle”

    I have to give them credit, that statement is 100% correct – with a hybrid, you’re basically no different than a gas-powered vehicle, because it IS a gas-powered vehicle!

  14. Nix says:

    “Eventually, Lexus will sell electric vehicles and when it does, what will Lexus then say of these anti-EV ads? We were wrong.”

    No, they will run an ad campaign about how “Lexus has reinvented the EV!” and pretend that their new product has solved everything they previously bashed.

    Toyota/Lexus put a lot of money into making the Prius the defacto “green” car before EV’s came along, and they are going to milk their hybrid drivetrain investment right down to the last drop possible. They will wait as long as they can (until their hybrid tech is near death) before pivoting to EV’s.

    1. jkw says:

      They probably will push their hybrid drivetrain for as long as possible. The thing that makes it really stupid is that they could easily make a good plug-in hybrid. Adding a charger and a large battery to a hybrid is a minor tweak. All that they did to make the plug-in Prius is change the battery chemistry, add a weak charger, and put in a slightly more powerful motor. They could do that with all of their hybrids. They could have a PHEV SUV out next month if they wanted to.

      Of course, actually redesigning the vehicle to make it work in electric mode in more situations would improve it considerably. But the very mild plug-in conversion would cost them almost nothing and allow them to continue leading the way.

  15. Scramjett says:

    “When Lexus finally enters the plug-in vehicle segment, will you consider buying a plug-in Lexus? Or will you remember these anti-EV ads and cross Lexus off your shopping list forever?”

    Probably not. They have to one up the competition, rather than just playing catch-up, for me to reconsider. Even then, I’d probably be skeptical until there was a few years of positive experiences from drivers. Much like how I was with the Volt.

    “…a consumer could participate in driving a vehicle with advanced technology today, without sacrifice or change in habit.”

    I never considered our Leaf a “sacrifice” since we generally plug-in at night or at a public charger during the day. It has saved us quite a bit of money versus typical second car ownership.

    As for change of habit, I don’t understand why that should be a bad thing? People change habits all the time. It’s part of life. Sometimes changing habits can be a good thing. I now go to the gas station once every month or two to “feed” the Prius while all of my EV charging is done at home with little, if any, impact on my day-to-day activities. Contrast that with the 20 minutes it takes me to drive to the gas station, fill it up, and drive back.

  16. Lensman says:

    Speaking as an EV supporter, I find this to be wonderful news! Clearly Lexus thinks the Tesla Model S and other pure electric vehicles are cutting into their sales, or they wouldn’t be trying to slam pure EVs with an ad campaign.

    The Model S is also outselling all of Audi’s models in the North American market. The EV revolution advances slowly, but it does advance!

  17. Surya says:

    “In other words, at its core, the ad’s message was that a consumer could participate in driving a vehicle with advanced technology today, without sacrifice or change in habit.”
    Advanced technology? Like those inferior NiMH batteries?

  18. pete g says:

    To bad sarcasm doesn’t translate on line. I had a great comment about giving up my cell phone and going back to a land line.

  19. pete g says:

    With EVs and PHEVs quickly taking over the luxury market. What makes everyone think Lexus will be around long enough to market an EV?

    1. Rick Danger says:

      Studebaker, Nash, Rambler, Packard, American Motors… Lexus?