Toyota Ordered to Withdraw “Deceptive” Corolla Cross Ad in South Africa

The South African Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) recently looked into a complaint from a customer about an advertisement for Toyota’s newly launched Corolla Cross GR-Sport Hybrid vehicle. According to the complaint, the promotion gave the false impression that the vehicle was immediately available for sale when, in reality, there was a lengthy waiting list of 12 to 24 months. On May 2, 2023, the ARB made a decision after reviewing the evidence.

The ad in question, which was posted on Toyota South Africa’s Facebook page, highlighted the Corolla Cross GR-Sport Hybrid’s economy. The complainant argued that the phrase “The Corolla Cross GR-Sport Hybrid is here!” was deceptive because it implied immediate availability, which was wrong because there were lengthy waiting lists.

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Toyota initially denied the claim of non-availability, blaming any waiting times on a global shortage of hybrid batteries that was supposed to end by 2024. According to the manufacturer, the Corolla Cross GR-Sport Hybrid was introduced during the time of advertising, and its limited manufacturing numbers were justified due to niche demand.

Related: The Deceptive Marketing Practices

In reaching its conclusion, the ARB considered pertinent provisions of the ARB Code of Advertising Practise, concentrating on deceptive statements and the absence of promoted goods. The Directorate came to the conclusion that the advertisement did provide the impression of imminent availability. It stated that the lack of disclaimers or limitations contributed to the expectation that the car was readily available for purchase.

Related: Toyota Accused of Greenwashing in Greenpeace Complaint Filed to ACCC

The ARB noted the difficulties in accurately forecasting vehicle sales as well as the potential effects of several variables on the production process. However, it emphasized that it is the advertiser’s duty to make sure that all of its advertising is completely clear, especially when there are acute limitations.

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The ARB determined that Toyota did not have a reasonable basis to assume it could meet the demand that was projected to be generated by the advertisement because the advertiser had not given supporting evidence regarding sales numbers, current demand, or manufacturing schedules.

Related: South Korea Penalizes Toyota for Misleading Ads

Because of this, the ARB ruled that Toyota South Africa must stop promoting the Corolla Cross GR-Sport Hybrid or modify the ad correctly in order to accurately tell consumers about the situation and the potential of lengthy waiting times.

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