A website, www.nissan.co.uk, seen on 29 May 2018, for the Nissan Leaf, featured text which stated, "QUICK CHARGE ON THE MOVE...UP TO 80% IN 40 TO 60 MINUTES**". Further text stated, "Plug your new LEAF into a CHAdeMO rapid charger and get up to 80% charge in as little as 40 minutes". The asterisk linked to a footnote towards the bottom of the page which stated, “Time dependent on charging conditions, including Quick Charger type and condition, battery temperature and size as well as ambient temperature at point of use. Shown for a 40KW battery. Indicated semi-fast charging time requires use of a 32A / 6.6KW (7KW) wall box”.
Three complainants, who understood that the car sometimes took longer than 60 minutes to charge and was designed to accept only one fast charge per day, challenged whether the charging time claim in the ad was misleading and could be substantiated.
Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd said that the information published on their website indicated that a consumer could charge their vehicle as much as 80% in the stated timeframe. They said that the text did not specifically state that the battery would be charged to 80% in 60 minutes, and it was clearly qualified with a visible footnote explaining that timings could be dependent on other factors and conditions.
Nissan said that following feedback they had received from consumers, they carried out a review of the materials related to the Nissan LEAF and updated their website with wording which stated, "Plug your New LEAF into a CHAdeMO rapid charger and get from 20 to 80% charge in around 60 minutes", and also updated the text which linked to the asterisks at the bottom of the page to add that the vehicle was designed to support the majority of journeys in daily life and was equipped with charging safeguards to protect the battery during repeated rapid charging sessions in a short period of time. The updated text also stated that the time taken for successive rapid charging could take longer if the battery temperature activated the safeguarding technology.
Nissan stated that the vehicle was capable of receiving and was intended to accept more than one rapid charge per day. They stated that the time taken to complete those rapid charges could increase if several were done in a day due to increases in the temperature of the battery after successive long periods of driving. The rate of charging was managed to ensure the successive rapid charging did not damage the quality or life expectancy of the battery.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claims "QUICK CHARGE ON THE MOVE...UP TO 80% IN 40 to 60 MINUTES**" and "Plug your New LEAF into a CHAdeMo rapid charger and get up to 80% charge in as little as 40 minutes" that they were usually able to increase the charge in the battery of the Nissan LEAF by 80%, or close to 80%, within 40 to 60 minutes when using a CHAdeMO charger, a type of charger used for electric vehicles. While we considered consumers would see the asterisks next to the claim we noted that the linked text appeared at the very bottom of the page, in italicised text amongst other footnotes. We considered that the relative prominence of the footnote qualification, which explained that charging times varied depending on a number of factors, meant that the consumers who read it were likely to expect that those factors had only a nominal effect on the charging times included in the main claims.
We acknowledged that the charge times were dependent on a number of factors, such as the type and condition of the charger and the temperature of the battery at the point of use. We welcomed Nissan's willingness to update the charging time claims to "get from 20 to 80% charge in around 60 minutes" in addition to further clarification in their footnote with regards to the factors which influenced charging time. However, we considered that even with those amendments the ad was still likely to mislead because the claim and accompanying footnote still did not clearly convey the degree of variability in the time that may be required to deliver a certain amount of charge.
Therefore, because the ad did not clearly convey the degree of variability in the time that may be required to deliver a certain amount of charge, we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated and were likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd to ensure that their future advertising made clear the degree of variability in the time that may be required to deliver a certain amount of charge.