The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has upheld complaints against adverts by Volkswagen Ireland and Toyota Ireland, which made claims related to the environment and ruled the ads must not be run again in their original form.

In the first case, a Volkswagen Ireland radio ad had described its electric ID 3 and ID 4 models as "carbon neutral".

A complainant said this was misleading as they did not consider that electric cars were carbon neutral either during their manufacturing process or when they were being charged using electricity that was generated by fossil fuels.

Volkswagen said both models were delivered their Irish retailers with a certified carbon neutral balance, granted by TUV Nord, an independent regulatory body in Germany.

The ASAI found the certification applied to the entire manufacturing process, the initial charge of the vehicle before delivery to the customer and the recycling of the vehicle, excluding the battery, at the end of its lifecycle.

While the committee noted that the electric vehicles were carbon neutral on delivery to the customer, there was no guarantee that they would continue to be carbon neutral while being charged after delivery.

In addition, disposal of the battery at end of life was not included in the emission sources considered by the independent body that had awarded the certification.

In the circumstances, the ASAI considered that the claim in the advertisement to be 'carbon neutral' went beyond what the certification provided for.

The other ruling was in relation to a video on Toyota Ireland's YouTube channel, which stated: "The car brand voted best for tackling climate change in Ireland, also makes the country's best selling car. Ireland, you seem to know what you're doing. Powered by purpose. built for a better world, Toyota."

A complainant questioned how the claim "the car brand voted best for tackling climate change in Ireland" could be made when the advertisers' hybrid vehicles required fuel and also objected to the fact that no source had been provided for the claim.

Toyota said the claim was based on an iReach survey.

The ASAI complaints committee noted that the question put to respondents had not been centred around a brand doing the best at tackling climate change, rather it had asked what brand did the most to tackle climate change.

In the circumstances, the committee did not consider that the claim to be "voted best" had been substantiated.

Toyota Ireland had also advertised that "Never run out of energy with Toyota's powerful range of self-charging hybrid electric SUV's".

A complainant had said this was misleading as it would suggest Toyota had invented a perpetual motion machine - something they considered impossible

Toyota responded that 'never run out of energy' was very clearly in relation to the electric energy of the car.

It said a Toyota Hybrid would never have to be plugged in due to their regenerative braking systems, which converted kinetic energy into electricity.

The complainant also said that the cars needed petrol and they considered that all the car’s energy came from petrol.

The committee noted the cars were not designed to run only on the electric battery and the battery was not allowed by the system to be completely depleted.

While the committee accepted that a level of energy may remain in the battery, if it was not available to the system to power the car, they considered that a reasonable understanding would be that the car had run out of energy.

In the circumstances, the committee considered the claim 'never run out of energy' to be likely to mislead.