Norway finds Lexus ‘self-charging hybrid’ adverts misleading

Norway deems Lexus ‘self-charging’ adverts misleading

Lexus’s ongoing battle over its self-charging hybrid advertisements has taken a new northern-European turn. Norway’s Consumer Authority has deemed the advertisements misleading.

Complaints about adverts in magazines referenced the claim that the car could charge itself, without a cost to the driver.

One of the ads translates in English to: “In hybrid form Lexus, the power (always costs) absolutely nothing”. Another phrase used in ad copy that has been contested read: “Lexus offers the power”.

The Norway decision contrasts with an earlier ruling by the UK’s ASA that Lexus self-charging hybrid ads are not misleading

Self-charging – a “spiked lie”?

A Lexus owner said that: “Lexus and Toyota market their hybrids heavily as self-recharging, without notifying the customer that all energy used for recharging comes from the combustion of gasoline.

“In its latest ads, Lexus even uses the phrase, ‘Lexus offers the power’. This is purely [a] spiked lie.”

So the issue is not necessarily that self-charging is misleading. The cars do indeed charge themselves using regenerative braking, the recuperation of energy lost in braking.

The problem is when that recuperated energy is implied to be “free”. In reality, that energy came from the burning of fuel, which cost the driver money.

Norway’s Consumer Authority has therefore taken issue with the claim that the energy recuperated didn’t cost anything.

This idea is reiterated in a variety of ad copy, including lines like “produce power itself; charges when you release the gas, when you slow down, yes, even while driving.” (Again, for clarity, we’ve run a literal translation here.)

Norway deems Lexus ‘self-charging’ adverts misleading

The country’s marketing act prohibits false, misleading or unreasonable claims in advertisements, which aspects of the ‘self-charging’ claim fall under. 

Authorities concluded that Lexus’s ads could lead customers to believe that their car generates free electricity. It claims this marketing content could have influenced customers to buy the car under this false claim.

ASA rules Lexus self-charging hybrid ads ‘not misleading’

Lexus self-charging hybrid advert

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints about Lexus and its ‘self-charging hybrid’ adverts.

A total of 25 people challenged whether the claim ‘self-charging hybrid’ was misleading because they believed it misrepresented the way in which the battery was charged.

In response, the ASA said: “Because the ads did not misrepresent the way in which the electric battery was recharged by using the petrol engine, we concluded they were not misleading.”

The complaints centred on a campaign for the Lexus UX, specifically a television advert, poster and Facebook post.

In the television ad, a voiceover said: “To capture something striking, you need to keep your eyes open, and the more you look the more you will see. So keep going. The all-new Lexus UX self-charging hybrid.”

In response to the complaints, Toyota GB said the hybrid electric vehicles use a petrol engine and and an electric motor that could operate independently to each other, as well as working in tandem.

In a statement, Toyota said it “believed that consumers would be aware that the hybrid vehicle was powered through a combination of petrol and electricity and that the ‘hybrid’ was descriptive of that dual source of power”.

Lexus UX self-charging hybrid

The ASA agreed with Toyota. “Consumers would interpret the ads to mean that the Lexus UX was a new model of ‘self-charging hybrid‘ car,” it said.

It was noted that the ads “did not include content which implied the battery was charged via plugging in”.

In conclusion, the ASA said: “We considered the ads did not contain any references to other types of car, ‘hybrid’ or otherwise, and did not make any stated or implied claims in relation to the car’s environmental impact.

”We therefore considered consumers would be unlikely to view the ads as a comparison which implied the ‘self-charging hybrid’ engine was an improvement, including by being more environmentally friendly, compared to other types of hybrid vehicle.”

The UX is the smallest of three SUVs in the Lexus range and prices start from just under £30,000. You can read our first drive review of the car here.

Volvo S60 gets 390hp hybrid, Polestar power to follow

Volvo S60 T8 hybrid

Volvo has given the S60 a stocky set of hybrid muscles. Meet the new T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. It’s got 390hp courtesy of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine connected to an 87hp electric motor.

S60 T8 Twin Engine: 0-62 in 4.6 seconds, 176mpg

Volvo S60 T8 hybrid

The T8’s clever powertrain delivers the best of both worlds. When you’re not getting to 62mph in 4.6 seconds, you could be getting a WLTP-tested 176mpg. Quite what it can do in the real-world remains to be seen, but it should be impressive for the performance of the car.

It has an electric-only range of 36 miles, and the overall CO2 output is just 39g/km. The only downside is that the T8 is over £10,000 more than the non-hybrid T5 packing near enough the same four-cylinder engine. The S60 T8 costs from £49,805, compared to the T5’s £37,935. As an uber-efficient hybrid, however, it does offer the benefit of cheap company car tax for 40 percent tax payers – just £265 a month.

R-Design Plus – looks to match the muscle

Volvo S60 T8 hybrid

The T8 Twin Engine S60 is available exclusively in R-Design Plus trim, which means all plug-in T8s will have sporty looks to hint at the power within. The visual upgrade consists of high-gloss black exterior trim pieces and a choice between 18-, 19- and 20-inch allows.

The T5 non-hybrid also gets a 12mm drop in ride height, stiffer springs, thicker anti-roll bars and faster monotube dampers.

On the inside for both, you get part-leather sports seats, metal mesh alloy inlays, gearshift paddles and a head-up display. As standard in the S60 R-Design Plus, you get a touchscreen with sat nav, voice control, adaptive LED lights, all-round parking sensors, hands-free boot and autonomous emergency city braking.

Polestar performance on the way

Volvo S60 T8 hybrid

The last tease from Volvo is that there is a ‘Polestar Engineered’ variant of the S60 on the way. No, that’s not the full fat 600hp+ Polestar, but it will be sportier, taking the T8 powertrain up to 405hp. Not quite an M car fighter, but appreciated all the same.

“With R-Design Plus and Inscription Plus, we can offer the choice of a more focused driving experience or something more luxurious – qualities that resonate strongly with private owners and business users in the premium mid-size saloon market,” said Matt Galvin, sales director of Volvo Car UK.

“Add the petrol-electric plug-in hybrid T8 Twin Engine to the mix and we’re sure the extended S60 range will make a significant contribution to Volvo Car UK’s continued sales success.”

Porsche launches world’s most powerful SUV – and it’s a hybrid

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

There’s a new king of the super SUVs. The Lamborghini Urus has been toppled, and its attacker comes from within the Volkswagen Group. Meet the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid – an SUV with 680hp.

The flagship Cayenne also serves up a monstrous 663lb ft of torque: good for 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds and a (limited) top speed of 183mph.

Supercar speed in an SUV

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

Standard equipment on the Turbo S E-Hybrid includes carbon-ceramic brakes, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus and, of course, the Sport Chrono package.

Given this rip-snorting SUV is one of the fastest cars Porsche makes, a set of supercar stoppers seems apt. What isn’t standard, however, is rear-axle steering.

Electrifying performancePorsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

Less headline-grabbing, but no less interesting, is the fact that the Turbo S E-Hybrid will drive 25 miles at speeds of up to 84mph without using a single drop of petrol. That’s thanks to the plug-in hybrid system, which uses a 14.1kWh battery. This can be fully charged in just under two-and-a-half hours via a 7.2kW AC charger. 

Indeed, while the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine provides 548hp, the electric motor serves up an extra 135hp for that 680hp total output. A couple of horses are lost in the combination process, apparently.

Three hybrid Cayennes on offer

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

The Cayenne also comes with a price tag befitting a supercar. For the honour of Turbo S E-Hybrid ownership, you’ll part with £123,349, and that’s before options. For comparison, the regular Cayenne Turbo is about £23,000 cheaper.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid is just one of three hybrid Cayennes revealed today, with the new Coupe variant also packing the same punch.

The standard Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe brings up the rear, with a relatively modest 455hp from its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 in combination with an electric motor.

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Self-charging and plug-in hybrids: how do they work?

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

What is a self-charging hybrid? It’s a term that’s had a lot more airtime recently from many car manufacturers, including Toyota and Kia. Also, how do these cars differ from plug-in hybrids? Wonder no more…

What’s the difference between plug-in and self-charging hybrids?

It’s no coincidence that the term ‘self-charging’ gained traction as plug-in hybrids started to proliferate. The distinction is quite obvious when you compare them. A self-charging hybrid is one you can’t plug in to charge the batteries separately. Instead, on-board systems top up the batteries as you drive, via energy recovery during braking, solar panels and the combustion engine itself. 

A plug-in hybrid is more complex. While the engine and recovery systems do feed into the batteries, there is the added option of literally plugging in. In urban environments, if you can charge overnight or at work, you may find yourself never using the combustion engine. If you don’t bother to charge a PHEV, it’ll run like a regular hybrid. In other words, it’ll self-charge only.

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

Then again, if you never use the petrol engine, what’s the point in having it? Isn’t it just dead weight? That’s the debate.

In reality, PHEVs are a baby-step towards electric motoring rather than the giant leap to a full EV (and the associated reliance on range and infrastructure). A PHEV allows you electric car life in the city and normal car life beyond, without worrying about where the next charging point is.

Have hybrid cars always been self-charging?

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

Yes, they have. If it’s not a plug-in hybrid, it’s a self-charging hybrid. The term is half-marketing, half-distinction. It separates ‘normal’ hybrids from plug-ins without demoting them as such. 

What you mustn’t assume is that the car is self-charging in the sense that it will pick up juice overnight. The charging only comes when you operate the vehicle.

Hybrids: things to remember

plug-in and self-charging hybrids

Firstly, you can’t plug in a self-charging hybrid. And yes, self-charging is just another way of saying ‘hybrid’ that keeps it distinct from the plug-in models.

Both types are at their best at low speeds rather than long-distance high-speed driving. Plug-ins merely offer the option of juicing up at a standstill.

Oh, and one more thing: neither type of hybrid is eligible for the government’s electric car grant any more.

Jaguar I-Pace

Most Brits will wait almost 10 YEARS before buying an electric car

Jaguar I-PaceThe emphasis on the transition to alternative fuel vehicles is intense. With diesel all but circling the drain, and talk of the 2040 combustion engine ban in the air, we all have to ask ourselves when we’ll take the leap into an electric car.

For many of us, that moment isn’t going to arrive any time soon.

That’s according to research conducted by Auto Trader. It found that drivers say they plan to wait an average of nine years before buying an electric car.

The research also discovered that motorists fall on both sides of the fence as to whether that 2040 ban is a good thing. While 20 percent were undecided, the remainder of the sample was evenly split in favour and against.

However, shockingly, nearly three quarters were not aware of the government assistance packages for buyers of electric cars and hybrids, such as the money-saving Plug-in Car Grant.

As for the recently-released Road to Zero report, over a third think it’s unrealistic to expect 50 percent of new cars sold to be electric by 2030.

The perceived price premiums, and what is seen as the inadequacy of the charging infrastructure, are why only one in four drivers would consider an EV or a hybrid for their next car.


So what’s needed to convert buyers? In short, awareness, education, incentive and reassurance. We need to know what’s available, know that it’s viable and have good reasons to buy over what we’re used to.

The UK’s charging infrastrucutre needs to be improved, and confusing electric car terminology eliminated. 

“There’s no doubt that electric vehicles are the future,” said Auto Trader editorial director Erin Baker.

“However, our research indicates that there are still significant barriers to adoption, with greater investment in infrastructure and technology needed.

“It’s also crucial that car manufacturers and the government alike ensure that language to describe electric cars is clear and accessible, rather than laden with technological jargon that consumers may find alienating.”

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Toyota Prius Plug-In

Charging ahead: plug-in hybrid car sales leap by a third

Toyota Prius Plug-In

If you bought a new car last month, you were one of a 168,898 people that helped fortify this July’s stronger-looking sales figures. That number represents a 1.2 percent increase in cars sold versus July 2017.

While sales to businesses with fleets of 25 cars or less were down by a fairly hefty 10.2 percent, those to larger fleets were up 2.6 percent, with sales to private buyers just edging up by 0.1 percent.

We’re buying different types of cars, too. Diesel-engined vehicles continue to fall – by 24.4 percent – with petrol rising by 20.1 percent and alternative-fuel vehicles enjoying a rise in popularity of 21 percent.

Plug-in hybrids enjoyed a year-on-year leap in popularity of 33.5 percent – yes, a whole third. Hybrid registrations grew by 17.5 percent, while pure electric cars are yet to boom in full, with a comparatively small increase in popularity of 2.4 percent. Watch this space.

While still being 5.5 percent down year-to-date, the car market is on its way to being back on track, and is performing in accordance with expectations.

Ford Fiesta

As for the most popular buys, the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf retain their respective first and second places, while the Volkswagen Polo enjoyed a particularly fruitful July as the third best-seller. The Mini, meanwhile, may be the seventh best-seller of the year so far, but it didn’t even place in the top 10 for July new car sales.

“The feel-good factor from a sun and sport-packed July, combined with some fantastic deals on a raft of exciting new models, clearly helped keep showrooms relatively busy last month,” said Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

“It’s great to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this growth, and government’s acknowledgement of the vital role new-tech diesel will play in its Road to Zero strategy should help more even more motorists benefit from the latest, safest and low emission technology over the coming months.


The BTCC is going hybrid in 2022


With rule changes on the horizon starting from 2020, how racers in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) are going to look, sound and go is beginning to take shape. The latest and most dramatic development is that they will be hybridised from the start of the 2022 season.

That’s right… series organiser TOCA has confirmed that the BTCC, one of the more down-to-earth motorsport series, is looking at electrification, joining the upper echelons of WEC, Formula 1 and obviously, Formula E.

That’s not to say that the cars themselves will change very much. The implementation of the technology should be on a base spec level. That means every car will get a standard power unit to complement the internal combustion engine. How and when that power unit is used to boost the cars throughout the race will become a part of each team’s race strategy.


Alan Gow, BTCC Series Director, outlined the extent of the changes to the current cars: “Different to hybrid development within the likes of Formula 1, this certainly shouldn’t – and won’t – be an ‘extreme’ technical exercise, but rather will be one which we will introduce within our NGTC technical regulations relatively seamlessly and very cost-effectively.

“Just as importantly, by incorporating hybrid it keeps the BTCC absolutely relevant to manufacturers, sponsors and the public… with the added benefit of further enhancing our great racing.

Watch a Volvo ESTATE race in the BTCC!

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“Drivers will have a given reserve of additional hybrid power to use during each race, which will provide an extra element of race-craft and excitement to the fantastically close and entertaining racing that is the hallmark of the BTCC.”

While this general outline is good to go, the minutiae of the technical specifications is still to be decided, with the BTCC Technical Working Group (TWG) set to go over the detailed engineering over the course of the next 12-18 months. Some of the current cars should have such systems engineered in during 2020 and beyond for testing purposes, ahead of the full grid going hybrid from 2022.

How hybridisation will effect manufacturer perceptions of and involvement in the sport will be interesting to see…

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Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is making a comeback – as a hybrid

Toyota CamryToyota withdrew the U.S.-focused Camry from the UK market almost a decade and a half ago, through lack of interest. Now, the model is making a surprise return in 2019 – newly reinvented as a fuel-efficient hybrid.

The Camry is the world’s best-selling saloon and has been a hit in North America for years, but struggled in the UK because it was seen as too dull and not very fuel-efficient.

But the latest eighth-generation design has solved the former grumble by reinvigorating the Camry, and now Toyota’s ticking the fuel-efficiency box by installing its latest all-new 2.5-litre hybrid-electric powertrain.

The new Camry Hybrid effectively replaces the Avensis, for which interest has itself faded in recent years. The UK plant in Derby has now stopped building the large saloon and estate range as it gears up to start making the all-new Auris.

Toyota is thus to maintain its place in the large executive saloon sector with the Camry, which will be built on the acclaimed Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform which underpins models such as the well-received C-HR (and, indeed, the new Auris).

Bosses are promising segment-leading quality, reliability, quiet running and “superb ride quality”. The driver will enjoy a wraparound dashboard and the rear seats will be enormous. The suspension will also be tuned for the European market, to improve handling.

The relaunch of the Camry in Europe will further bolster the already heady sales of the current car: Toyota’s sold 19 million of them since launch in 1982, and currently makes more than 700,000 of them every single year – that’s almost 20 percent of the entire UK new car market!

Prices, performance, equipment and economy will all be announced nearer to the Camry’s on-sale date in 2019. 

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

‘Alternative-fuel vehicles’ – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric – accounted for just over five percent of car sales in February 2018. That’s according to JATO Dynamics, which collates car registration figures for 27 European markets. Here, we reveal the top five best-sellers in each of those three eco-friendly categories. These are Europe’s best-selling hybrid and electric cars

Hybrid no.5 – Kia Niro

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

We start with conventional hybrids: those where on-board batteries are charged solely by an internal combustion engine (i.e. they can’t be plugged in). In fifth place is the Kia Niro, finishing ahead of its Hyundai Ioniq stablemate with 1,853 sales. It’s the only non-Toyota in the top five.

Hybrid no.4 – Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Toyota has majored on hybrids ever since the first Prius was launched in 1997. Interestingly, though, the car many people associate with ‘going green’ is not inside the European top five. It’s outsold by the fourth-placed RAV4 Hybrid for starters, which found 3,326 new owners in February.

Hybrid no.3 – Toyota Auris Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Our next Toyota is the Auris Hybrid. This dull-but-worthy car offers the same petrol/electric drivetrain as the Prius, but packaged in a more conventional hatchback body. There’s also a practical Touring Sports estate. Sales of 4,408 put the Auris in third place.

Hybrid no.2 – Toyota C-HR Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Fashionable crossover it may be, but the C-HR’s slash-cut styling certainly divides opinion. Still, unconventional looks are no barrier to success in this sector – as proved by the Nissan Juke and the C-HR’s strong standing here. It finishes second, with 5,436 sales.

Hybrid no.1 – Toyota Yaris Hybrid

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

So the number one hybrid in Europe is – you guessed it – a Toyota. The Yaris Hybrid is the smallest and most efficient car in the top five, with official figures of 85.6mpg and 75g/km. It’s also reliable and easy to drive – particularly in town, where a ‘B’ mode for the automatic gearbox boosts regenerative braking for one-pedal driving.

Plug-in hybrid no.5 – Volkswagen Golf GTE

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

We move on to plug-in hybrids, starting with the fifth-placed Volkswagen Golf GTE. Cars in this class usually boast incredible – and not entirely realistic – CO2 emissions figures, due to the fact they complete much of the official NEDC test on electric power alone. The sporty Golf GTE, for example, emits just 40g/km. A total of 665 were sold in February.

Plug-in hybrid no.4 – BMW 225xe iPerformance Active Tourer

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

‘BMW 225xe iPerformance Active Tourer’ is a bit of a mouthful, and you wouldn’t call this front-wheel-drive MPV attractive. However, its strengths lie elsewhere, with a versatile interior and 46g/km CO2 emissions (meaning low company car tax and VED). It’s Europe’s fourth most popular PHEV, with 692 sold.

Plug-in hybrid no.3 – Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Mitsubishi sells diesel and plug-in petrol/electric versions of its Outlander SUV for the same price. Result: the PHEV is hugely more popular, regularly topping the charts as the UK’s most popular plug-in. In Europe overall, it finishes third, shifting 924 units in April. A updated Outlander arrives soon, promising more power and improved economy.

Plug-in hybrid no.2 – Volvo XC60 T8

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

How about this for the best of both worlds? The T8 ‘twin engine’ XC60 has a combined output of 407hp with an official CO2 figure of 49g/km. It’s also stylish, spacious and very comfortable. What’s not to like? Well, perhaps a nigh-on £60,000 price tag, although that didn’t stop 976 T8s finding buyers around Europe.

Plug-in hybrid no.1 – Volkswagen Passat GTE

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The Passat GTE takes the number one spot, with 1,034 sales – comfortably more than its cheaper Golf sibling. Like the Golf, it’s a performance-oriented hybrid, using its 9.9kWh lithium-ion battery for extra oomph as well as cutting fuel use. The 0-62mph dash takes a swift 7.4 seconds, with CO2 emissions of 39g/km (in theory, at least).

Electric car no.5 – Smart Fortwo EQ

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Our third and final top five, also based on Jato Dynamics data, is for fully electric cars (EVs). Times are changing, but many EVs are still small cars designed primarily for city use. The Smart Fortwo EQ is typical of the breed: a two-seat runabout with an 80mph top speed and a 96-mile range. A total of 741 were sold.

Electric car no.4 – BMW i3

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

When BMW launched its eco-focused ‘i’ sub-brand, it was the i8 supercar that stole the headlines. However, the i3 hatchback is, in truth, the more innovative car: a futuristic alternative to a 3 Series with a choice of electric or range-extender hybrid powertrains. BMW sold 1,130 electric i3s in February.

Electric car no.3 – Volkswagen e-Golf

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

The sprawling Golf range covers all bases, including the fully-electric e-Golf (1,403 sold). From the outside, this five-door hatchback looks near-identical to a petrol or diesel Golf – a blanked-off grille with a blue stripe is a giveaway – but its 24.2kW lithium-ion battery means zero emissions. For everyday driving, there’s simply no compromise.

Electric car no.2 – Nissan Leaf

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Where Volkswagen fitted an existing car with a battery and electric motor, Nissan took the opposite approach – designing an EV from the ground up. The Leaf is now into its second-generation and the new model has a huge, 235-mile range when fully charged. European buyers snapped up 1,508 in February 2018.

Electric car no.1 – Renault Zoe

The most popular hybrid and electric cars

Renault sold 2,177 Zoes in the same month, however, putting this chic supermini comfortably in first place as Europe’s most popular EV. Not a bad achievement for a car first launched in 2012. Renault has pioneered a monthly battery leasing scheme with the Zoe, which helps keep list prices down. Opt for the beefier 41kWh battery and range increases to around 180 miles.

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