Pitch-perfect Lexus Hybrid Ad Claims Plug-in Cars Hold You Back


A new video from Lexus seems to take a shot at plug-in cars, claiming the technology “can actually hold you back”, and running a photo of an EV parking spot with the words “Reserved for Someone With Four Hours to Kill”. It’s a ridiculously conceived, ignorant ad that plays to the lowest common denominator-types who don’t fully “get” electric cars while it downplays the literal billions of dollars that Lexus’ parent company, Toyota, has spent developing EVs, PHEVs, and hybrids. That’s the narrative coming out of most green-car circles, anyway … but, what if this is actually a terrific, dead-nuts accurate ad that will drive traffic away from Lexus’ prime competitors into a Lexus hybrid?

We have to ask that “What if?” question, of course, because it’s not a hypothetical question at all. This is an ad, after all, that upsets the green heads. This is an ad, after all, that plays up to America’s ignorance in re: electric and plug-in cars. This is an ad, after all, targeted at older people who don’t really trust electronics- be they in their cars or in their computers.

This is an ad, after all, that hopes to sell Lexus’ hybrid cars to Cadillac ELR buyers.

That’s right, gang. Lexus, as ever, is gunning for that aging baby-boomer market that Cadillac went after with its “Poolside” ad, which featured exactly the type of 55+ d-bag ‘MURICAN who wouldn’t dream of buying a Prius or Tesla or Volt getting into an ELR. The thing is, that Poolside really did seem to speak to the generation that thought “Yuppie” was a positive term (exact quote from my dad: “Who wouldn’t want to be young and upwardly-mobile?”), but it wasn’t enough. Not enough in the sense that the Cadillac ad didn’t convince the silver foxes who are out trolling for Golden Girls to actually buy a plug-in car … but it was enough to get them thinking about plug ins.

Enter: Lexus.

Lexus, who is reminding them that they don’t need to spend a laughable $76,000 on a cramped, 2 door electric Cadillac when they can spend that money on a Lexus hybrid. You know, something like the 338 HP, 2014 Lexus GS 450h, which has plenty of room, won’t stand out too much (baby-boomers hate that), has 4 doors, and has that all-important Lexus badge on its masculinely-styled snout. The Cadillac? Old people drive Cadillacs, and- as they approach retirement- the one thing baby-boomers don’t want to feel is old.

Expect Lexus to sell a metric s***ton of hybrids off the back of this ad- and expect a full review of the 2014 Lexus GS 450h hybrid in the coming weeks, since a black-on-black GS just happened to find its way into my garage a few days ago (in related news: I’m selling my motorcycle– I need the room). Stay tuned!


Lexus Hybrid Ads Target Plug-in Cars

Source | Images: Lexus, via Green Car Reports.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Chris

    I don’t consider sleeping at home as my car charges overnight “waiting”… I also don’t consider the ~30-40 minutes it takes to charge my Tesla enough to get another 200 miles while I eat my Lunch or Dinner “waiting”. I DO consider the ~10 minutes EVERY WEEK I used to spend next to by old ICE while I filled the tank “waiting”… So really I “wait” for my EV less than I did for my ICE.

    • So, wait … ten minutes once a week is more waiting than 30-40 minutes while you have lunch? I mean, I sort of get it- but I don’t get it.

      PS: electric cars are the future, and could easily be the present. I get THAT completely … I’m just not sure what point you’re making. You don’t consider charging an EV waiting?

      • PaulScott58

        He’s not waiting, he’s doing other things. Waiting is when you stand next to your car while the pump fills your gas tank. You’re wasting time. Eating a meal is something you have to do anyway, so it’s not waiting.

  • PaulScott58

    This ad is aimed at people who don’t mind causing harm to others. If you drive on internal combustion, you are polluting other people’s air. You are using an energy source over which soldiers were killed. You are causing lots of pollution that contributes to climate change. You do all of those things and you don’t pay a cent for the pilvilege. So the people who would rather buy an oversized, inefficient pig of a car with way more power than they need are inconsiderate boors who contribute to the downfall of their country and climate change that will eventually cost everyone trillions in damage. In other words, these are not very good people who buy the Lexus.

    • I think you’re taking the issue a bit far- but, yeah, people die in wars over oil, people die from lung disease because of oil, and people rip each other off over oil. It’s bad stuff.

      That said, I hardly think Lexus = not good person. You’re a little off the reservation with that one.

      • PaulScott58

        The point is that when you drive an internal combustion vehicle, you do cause harm to others and you don’t pay for the privilege. Can you agree to that?

        • Not in the slightest. You may inadvertently support harm to others, but no- that’s the same kind of logic that says if you eat beef you’re causing harm to others because you’re taking grain and grass from starving people and giving it to cows so you can have your luxurious beef.

          This feels an awful lot like one of those freshman philosophy classes where someone read Mill, but like- maybe only the first half of On Liberty- and is out to pass some laughable sort of over-simplistic moral judgement on issues they don’t fully understand and/or haven’t thought through.

          • PaulScott58

            I’m trying to understand your position. The act of driving an ICE does cause pollution that contributes to the ill health of millions and the death of tens of thousands. This is settled science. Given that the vast majority of driving can be done with renewable electricity instead of oil, how do you not conclude that drivine an ICE unessessarily causes harm to others?

            As for an “over-simplistic moral judgement”, to me this is a simple question. The science is clear, so what am I missing?

          • Nealicus

            Paul, by your logic, being a tax paying citizen is bad since government uses tax money to buy wage wars, spot on their own citizens, and pay corrupt politicians. The problem isn’t with the accuracy of your statements it’s in the moral imperative that you try to attach to it. Your logic makes almost any act immoral. At what point is a person responsible for their own actions? If I use plastic, which is made using oil, am I still someone who doesn’t mind causing harm to others?

          • PaulScott58

            Nealicus, the difference is in the scale of damage and the ability to avoid it. It’s pretty hard not to pay taxes without going to jail, and we do have the vote and we can lobby representatives for change.

            When it comes to driving, well over 90% of daily driving can be done with plug-in vehicles today. Most Americans can afford to switch today. Renewable energy is cheaper than dirty energy and has been for several years now.

            If the average American switched his or her car to electric, and switched their electricity to a renewable source, they’d eliminate over 90% of the pollution for which they are responsible. A few years ago, this was not possible, but it’s easy to do today.

          • All true. 🙂

          • Jai

            Every ounce of carbon dioxide that we emit will raise the earth’s temperature for the next several hundred years. Measured in billions of tons per year, the global human emission of carbon dioxide is rapidly leading toward a destabilized earth with widespread water and food shortages and the inevitable global conflicts that these shortages will bring.

            The scientists undersold global warming. It is much worse than they are telling us. We have only a few decades to prevent the total collapse of modern society.

          • 1. it’s probably “too late”.

            2. You realize that we exhale CO2 (carbon dioxide) every time we breathe, right? I mean, cars or not, that’s a thing … trees, plants, animals, etc. emit it, too.

          • PaulScott58

            Jo, the CO2 exhaled by fauna is part of the balanced atmosphere we evolved from. What is throwing this balance out of whack is that we’re digging up billions of tons of coal, oil and NG which have vast quantities of carbon which combines with O2 to create CO2. This is why the atmosphere is gaining energy.

          • Jai


            no, it isn’t “too late” but it will be in the very near future if we don’t work together to decarbonize our global society. There are real valid solutions that can be taken immediately, most of them are cost effective, especially when one considers the cost of doing nothing (total societal collapse in 30+ years)

            yes, we do exhale CO2 but the carbon that we exhale is produced from the food that we eat, which was grown somewhere, which took CO2 from the air as it grew. This is the carbon-cycle of life, so we aren’t contributing new CO2 just recycling it.

            Oil, Natural Gas and Coal all take carbon that was in the air millions of years ago and puts it BACK into the air, that is what we have to stop doing.

  • Jonny_K

    Not liking those Tesla sales, Toyota? Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

  • Jai

    Within 10 years every new car sold in the U.S. will have a chargeable battery that will be able to charge while parked using wireless technology.