Peters & Peters

Ads by the New Caledonian energy agency deemed misleading


Key facts:

In January 2024, the JDP received a complaint about an ad by the Caledonian Energy Agency promoting electrical cars.

The ad had appeared on the agency’s Facebook page and on the website of a local newspaper. The ad showed, against a green background, the undercarriage and wheels of a car near an electrical terminal, with the rest of the car having been replaced with natural elements (eg, a forest, water, rocks). Birds could also be seen above and two wind turbines in the background.

The accompanying text stated that “The electrical car, it’s ecological”, “five times less polluting than a petrol or diesel car”, and “up to 600,000 Frs of electrical purchase bonus”.

Another Facebook ad included a video showing an aerial view of Caledonian landscapes, with the word “ecological” highlighted and preceded by a text that repeated the sentence “The electrical car, it’s ecological”.

The complaint also concerned an image on Facebook, which praised electrical mobility and compared the CO2 emissions between a thermal car and an electric car, and stated: “Did you know that an electric car produces neither CO2 nor particles when driving? Its carbon impact comes only from its production phase”.

The complainant argued that these ads were misleading and could amount to greenwashing. He added that the production of an electrical vehicle is more polluting than for a thermal one. He also criticised the data mentioned in the ads, in that it corresponded to the European situation but not to the Caledonian context.

The JDP pointed out that if, on the one hand, the production of a vehicle necessarily leads to the emission of CO2 and this vehicle is not completely recyclable and, on the other hand, the electricity used by an electric vehicle comes from a mix of energy made up of various sources of fossil fuels, then, in its view, the “ecological” claim (illustrated with the assimilation of the product to a natural environment while a vehicle, even an electric one, presents a negative environmental impact) does not comply with the Sustainable Development Recommendation regarding the proportionality and the visual presentation of the advertising message.

Further, the numerical data in the “five times less polluting” claim was rather vague, and since the source of the data was not mentioned, its reliability could not be verified.

As to the image with a comparative diagram between the emissions of an electric and thermal car, apart from the fact that it did not disclose a source (even though precise numerical data was shown), the accompanying text was also inaccurate, since it claimed that the electric car does not emit particles when it circulates while it was admitted that it does emit some owing to the wear and tear of the brakes and tires.

As such, the ad’s accuracy could indeed be questioned.

The JDP ruled that the ads breached the Sustainable Development Recommendation.


JDP ruling

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