Toyota’s Propaganda War Against the Electric Car

January 7, 2015
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The popularity of vehicles that run on alternative fuel has soared in the last decade, but the advertisers working for Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus apparently feel that electric cars feature too many hassles and that a Lexus hybrid is a much better option for environmentally-conscious drivers.

Print Advertisement Angers Electric Car Advocates

A recent print advertisement from Lexus suggests battery-electric vehicles cause ‘range anxiety,’ which is a driver’s worry that his or her vehicle won’t make it to the next charging stop. The advertisement says electric car drivers have to wait hours for their vehicle to charge and that driving a Lexus hybrid vehicle eliminates the worry over trying to find a charging station.

Not surprisingly, supporters of the electric car aren’t pleased with the Lexus advertisement, which advocates the use of a hybrid engine that still relies heavily on fossil fuels. This recent advertisement is also not the first time that Lexus has created a fuss in the automobile industry with an advertisement against electric cars.

Lexus Already Campaigned Against Electric Vehicles

According to, in the spring of 2014, the automaker published an advertisement that said electric vehicle owners had to spend at least four hours charging vehicles. The industry retaliated against the advertisement saying that the average charging time was three hours and that many owners spent even less time charging their vehicles.

Interestingly, despite anger from electric car advocates in the spring, the new advertisement from Lexus again suggests that electric vehicles take at least four hours to charge. Industry pundits have suggested the attack from Lexus comes because the automaker sells more luxury hybrid vehicles than any other company.

Responses from Green Vehicle Advocates

After the advertisement appeared in print, Autoblog’s Green blog published a scathing response from Plug In America. Paul Scott, a founding member of Plug In America, suggested that Toyota was trying to squash competition instead of building better vehicles.

Interestingly, Lexus published a video about the superiority of its hybrid vehicle over the electric car. However, the fervor from electric vehicle advocates was so loud that Lexus pulled the video, according to an article published by the International Business Times.

Is Lexus Afraid of Tesla?

Some industry watchers have suggested that Lexus has remained on the offensive because of the company’s fear that electric vehicles would cut into sales of its luxury vehicles. In an article published by Inside EVs, a quote from the President of Marketing for the American division of Lexus, seemed to suggest the automaker wasn’t afraid of Tesla’s growing market share. Perhaps Tesla’s new policy of making all their patents open source has helped to allay fears.

However, sales figures for the Lexus LS were down in 2014, and Tesla’s Model S was outselling the Lexus LS for the first several months of 2014. In addition, overall sales of luxury vehicles have increased in 2014, which means decreased sales numbers for Lexus might be a troubling sign if vehicle buyers are moving to fully electric vehicles like the Tesla instead of the Lexus hybrid.

Toyota’s Response to Criticism

Toyota hasn’t backed down from its claims that its hybrid vehicles are a better choice than electric cars, and many car buyers probably remember that the Prius was the first mainstream hybrid vehicle introduced to the market. From most accounts, Lexus believes that the lithium-ion batteries that sit in Teslas aren’t the future of vehicles and that hydrogen is the way of the future.


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