Criticism for Volvo advertising campaign

Written By Paul Lucas Published On: Jan 30 2011

An environmental website has hit out at Volvo’s advertising campaign which uses a website and newspaper articles to publicise what is described as a “fictional scam” to avoid the London Congestion Charge.

Known as ‘avoidthecongestioncharge’, the website claims that purchasing a Volvo DRIVe badge as the ‘special introductory price’ of £799 will excuse any vehicle from the Congestion Charge payment with several newspaper adverts also used to warn drivers of the supposed scam.

However, Next Green Car claims the ‘scam’ is the creation of Volvo and is a ‘crafty piece of advertising’ aimed at highlighting the legitimate claim that three models in the Volvo DRIVe range qualify for the full Greener Vehicle Discount.

Dr Ben Lane, the director of the website, believes the false claim is likely to mislead and confuse genuine car buyers.

“The web page ‘avoidthecongestioncharge’ is masquerading as an independent website, and it is not made very clear to users that the site is owned by Volvo, nor that is part of an advertising campaign solely to promote three of their models,” he said.

“The campaign also makes the false claim that: ‘for full legal exemption from the London Congestion Charge you must be in full possession of one of... three Volvo DRIVe vehicles.’ This is patently NOT the case – there are around 40 models from other manufacturers that are also eligible for the full Greener Vehicle Discount.

“In fact, the new Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) was introduced on January 04 this year and supersedes the previous Alternatively Fuelled Vehicle Discount. Under the new GVD, any car qualifies for a 100 per cent discount if it has official tailpipe CO2 emissions of 100g/km or less, AND is at least Euro 5 compliant.”

Now there are calls for Volvo to suspend its false-scam advertising campaign.

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