Saturday, June 15

Lexus Stokes Electric vs. Hybrid Car Debate with New Ads

Toyota, which was the first manufacturer to mainstream hybrids with the introduction with its Prius, has consistently backed hydrogen over lithium ion batteries. Now, it seems, the fight is getting dirty.

“Closely monitor charge status,” a new Lexus commercial’s mock instructions proclaim. “Turn off A/C and radio to conserve power. Get lost searching for charger. Plug in and wait four hours. Repeat.”

The ad is just the latest in Lexus’ campaign deriding electric vehicles to promote its own hybrid vehicles. In a previous ad, Lexus claimed that public charging outlets took four hours to bring a car from an empty charge to full. EV advocacy group Plug In America called Lexus out for using outdated data on charging times and charging station infrastructure.

Electric car owners also pointed out that newer EV charging stations reduce the time it takes a car to charge, and most of that charging is done at home when the cars are not in use.

Toyota, which owns Lexus, pulled the original ads, but the same four-hour-charge claim is still appearing in print. Electric car blog InsideEVs speculated that “Maybe Lexus still has this ad out there in an attempt to counter the fact the Japanese automaker is losing sales to Tesla?” Lexus VP Brian Smith commented earlier this year that electric Tesla Model S Sedans were outselling Lexus LS hybrids.

Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson has even accused Toyota of “stoking fear” and blogged “I wonder if their employees will look back with pride.” Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was also recently quoted criticizing hydrogen technology.

The value of cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells (like hybrids) versus cars that run on electric batteries (like the Tesla) has been debated for years. Hydrogen and electricity both depend on fossil fuels, but result in lower emissions. Critics of hydrogen fuel cells point out that hydrogen requires fossil fuels, and hybrid car users retort that electric cars still depend on oil and natural gas.

With emotions running hot on both sides, it doesn’t look like the debate will be over anytime soon.

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