Is Toyota feeling more than a little threatened by electric and diesel alternatives to the hybrid segment it dominates?
Its luxury Lexus brand has continued with a series of ads that either highlight the shortcomings of alternative powertrains or sneer at them--depending on your point of view.
The latest was produced by Funny or Die, taking aim at the BMW i3 electric car. And it already appears to have proven controversial.
The ad was removed from Funny or Die sometime last night, but has been re-posted on YouTube by Los Angeles-area dealer Longo Lexus.
(However, it may disappear from there too.)
[FURTHER UPDATE: Indeed, the Longo Lexus ad disappeared a few days later. However, since nothing ever seems to die on the Internet, our reader Randy helpfully pointed us to its latest incarnation, courtesy of a Turkish site called Autosvilag.]
Lexus CT 200h
The 5-minute video shows a group of male friends driving from Van Nuys, California, to Las Vegas for a "dad-chelor party"--planning to celebrate a new baby in the typical Vegas way.
They split up, half going in a Lexus CT 200h hybrid, the other half in a BMW i3 electric car.
Naturally, things don't go well for the latter group.
One man's excitement about riding in an electric car quickly fades when the BMW has to stop to charge just 78 miles into the trip.
They're stuck for a "few hours."
Note that it takes 3 hours to fully recharge an i3 from a 240-Volt Level 2 source--yielding an EPA-rated 81 miles of range--but just 20 to 30 minutes for an 80-percent recharge at one of the handful of public DC fast-charging stations fitted with the CCS connector that the BMW uses.
2015 Lexus CT 200h
The hapless dads have to stop and recharge three more times after that--at intervals of 67, 63, and 76 miles, according to the mileage shown in the video.
Forced to crawl at slow speeds in the desert without air conditioning, they arrive in Vegas traumatized, long after their Lexus-driving friends have started the party.
The ad also neglects to mention that the BMW i3 can be ordered with an optional range-extending engine that gives about another 80 miles of range. In that version, the dads might still have had to stop twice to refuel--but each stop would have taken less than 5 minutes.
[UPDATE: As noted in a blog post by electric-car advocate and BMW i3 owner Tom Moloughney, the ad agency actually used a BMW i3 REx and then Photoshopped out its gas door in certain shots--but not all. Adding insult to injury, perhaps?]
Lexus and its parent company Toyota seem to have acquired a recent habit of making ads that criticize electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
Toyota has made no secret about its disinterest in plug-in cars, claiming that hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell cars like the one it plans to launch in the U.S. next year are a better solution.
At least the latest ad shows what politicians call "message consistency" ....