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For carbon-conscious British drivers, the advert for an electric car with an impressive 580km range seemed too good to be true.
Unfortunately, it appears it was, as the real range of the electric batteries in the Opel Ampera (sold in Britain as a Vauxhall) is a rather more modest 80km.
And to go beyond that, it relies on help from a somewhat less green source - a petrol engine.
Now the commercial has been banned for misleading motorists who want to do their bit for the environment.
The UK advertising watchdog’s ruling is a blow to Opel’s Ampera, which beat the Range Rover Evoque to win the European Car of the Year award for 2012.
Opel insisted its claims about the Ampera were genuine and that once in ‘range extender mode’, it can indeed keep going for 580km. However, the ‘range extender’ consists of a small petrol engine which switches on once the battery has been exhausted.
‘DRIVING ELECTRICITY FURTHER’
The advert for the car - which costs just under £30 000 (R393 000), including a £5000 (R65 500) government grant - briefly showed the vehicle plugged into an electricity source.
This was followed by scenes of the car in motion, interspersed with shots of endurance athletes in training. The athletes’ achievements were displayed as the voiceover stated: “Only true pioneers go further than others. Vauxhall Ampera, driving electricity further.”
As the car drove through the countryside, text proclaimed: “Ampera, up to 360 mile range.” An electricity pylon was seen in the background.
‘THE ENGINE DOES NOT DRIVE THE WHEELS’
Opel insisted the Ampera is a truly electric car because the petrol engine does not drive the wheels, but acts as an on-board generator for the electric motor. It also argued that the 580km claim was conservative and significantly understated the range achieved in vehicle tests in order to allow for ‘real world’ driving styles.
And it pointed out that the TV commercial carried small print which identified that the car sometimes relied on an ‘additional power source’. However, in a ruling published on Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority said the car firm should have been more upfront about the use of the petrol engine.
The watchdog said: “We considered that throughout the ad the emphasis was on the fact that the car was being driven electrically, and that most viewers would not understand that the car was in some circumstances being powered by electricity generated with a petrol engine.”
“Because it did not clearly explain how the vehicle worked in extended range mode, we concluded that the ad was misleading.” - Daily Mail
Watch the Vauxhall Ampera advert