This Ruling forms part of a wider piece of work on ‘zero-emissions’ claims. The ad was identified for investigation following intelligence gathered by our Active Ad Monitoring system, which uses AI to proactively search for online ads that might break the rules.

Ad description

A paid for Google ad for Ford seen on 16 August 2023 featured the claim, “New All-Electric Explorer – Redefining Adventure. The ultimate all-electric SUV is here. The Explorer. Redefine the meaning of adventure. The ultimate exploration vehicle – Find out more & discover the range of features. Zero-emissions driving. Fast charging. Driver Assistance Tech”.


The ASA challenged whether the claim "Zero-emissions driving" misleadingly represented the vehicle's environmental impact.


Ford Motor Company Ltd (Ford) explained that the ad specifically stated “driving” and therefore was not a statement that the All-Electric Explorer was a zero-emissions vehicle in absolute terms. They explained that there was a clear distinction between their claim “Zero-emissions driving” and an absolute claim such as “zero-emissions [vehicle name]”. They said the latter could be interpreted as an absolute claim encompassing the life cycle of the vehicle (including production, driving, charging and maintenance). However, their claim “Zero-emissions driving” explicitly and specifically stated that it was in relation to “driving”.Ford further stated that the claim had been made in the wider context of the ad, specifically the text, “Find out more & discover the range of features. Zero-emissions driving. Fast charging. Driver Assistance Tech”. They said that the text made clear that charging was another key element of the vehicle’s capabilities. Therefore, the context made it clear to consumers that there were other elements to the vehicle’s capabilities, beyond driving, such as charging, and the “zero-emissions” claim was made specifically in relation to driving.

They explained that to receive the ad a consumer would have searched for a phrase related to the All-Electric Explorer. They said that the All-Electric Explorer was Ford’s first battery electric mid-size Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) in the UK and therefore, they would have expected consumers in that instance (who had an active interest in the vehicle) to understand “zero-emissions driving” in the same way as “zero-emissions whilst driving”. They said that they believed therefore that “zero emissions driving” was compliant with the Code.

They stated, however, that to make future ads even more clear, they would amend the claim to “Zero-emissions while driving”.


Not upheld

The CAP Code required that marketing communications must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner. The basis of environmental claims must be clear.

The ASA understood that, unlike a car with a petrol or diesel engine where emissions came from the tailpipe, when battery electric vehicles were driven no emissions were produced. However, in other circumstances, such as the manufacture, disposal or charging of an electric vehicle using electricity from the national grid, emissions were generated. For that reason an ad that featured a “zero emissions” claim, that did not make explicitly clear that it related to the reaction of the vehicle while it was being driven, was likely to mislead.

We considered that the claim “Zero-emissions driving” in isolation was ambiguous. That was because it could be interpreted as an absolute claim, a comment on the emissions resulting from the vehicle through its life cycle, including for example, its manufacture, use and disposal.

While the ad included the claim “Zero-emissions driving”, we noted however that it was immediately followed by references to “Fast charging” and “Driver Assistance Tech”. This further text placed the claim in the context of some of the specific features of the car, which included its emissions while being driven, its charging capability and technical function. The claim was unlikely, therefore, in that specific context to be understood as a comment on the vehicle’s overall life-cycle (manufacture, use and disposal) emissions.We concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead.

We investigated the ad under the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Qualification) and 11.1 (Environmental Claims), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.3     3.9     11.1    

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