The Fair Trade Commission yesterday fined nine automobile vendors a total of NT$10.4 million (US$347,800) for misleading advertising regarding the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.
Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), the nation’s largest automobile retailer and distributor of Toyota and Lexus cars, was fined NT$4.5 million by the commission over fraudulent and misleading advertising.
The size of Hotai’s fine represented the largest of those handed down. It was followed by a fine of NT$1.5 million on Pan German Motors Ltd (汎德), which sells BMW and Mini cars and NT$900,000 for Beldare Motors Ltd (標達汽車), which distributes Volkswagen vehicles, according to a statement released by the commission.
The commission said Hotai, which had a 34.1 percent market share in Taiwan last month, placed several TV and Internet advertisements between September 2010 and March this year that claimed its Lexus CT200h and GS-series cars offered 31.78 kilometers per liter (km/L) city fuel efficiency and 16.3km/L average fuel efficiency.
From July 2010 to March this year, the company also advertised its Camry Hybrid and Altis 1.8E under the Toyota brand could respectively provide 32.28km/L city fuel efficiency and the best fuel efficiency of 18.2km/L among locally assembled cars, according to the commission.
However, in reality the company’s cars’ fuel efficiency fell short of consumers’ expectations and could not save them money at the gas pump.
This is because the claimed 16.3km/L average fuel efficiency of Lexus GS-series cars only applies to the GS450h model, with the GS250 model showing 10.7km/L average fuel efficiency and 10.1km/L for the GS350 model, the commission said.
‧ Hotai Motor Co — NT$4.5 million
‧ Pan German Motors Ltd — NT$1.5 million
‧ Beldare Motors Ltd — NT$900,000
‧ Ford Lio Ho Motor Co — NT$800,000
‧ Nan Yang Industries Co — NT$700,000
‧ China Motor Co — NT$700,000
‧ Volvo Cars Taiwan Ltd — NT$500,000
‧ Honda Taiwan Co and Motor Image Enterprise Ltd — both NT$400,000
FAIR TRADE COMMISSION
The commission said Hotai also did not deliver the advertised fuel efficiency targets on its Toyota Camry Hybrid and Altis 1.8E cars, because the claimed figures were the results of either lab tests or derived under circumstances that ordinary people would have had difficulties replicating in the real world.
This same misleading advertising also featured in TV commercials and Internet advertisements by eight other auto vendors, and as a result, the commission said it decided to fine these firms in accordance with Article 21 of the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法).
The commission also fined Ford Lio Ho Motor Co (福特六和), a Taiwanese subsidiary of the US-based Ford Motor Co, NT$800,000, and NT$700,000 each for Nan Yang Industries Co (南陽實業), which distributes cars made by South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co, and China Motor Co (中華汽車), which sells Mitsubishi cars.
Volvo Cars Taiwan Ltd (富豪汽車), Honda Taiwan Co (台灣本田) and Subaru cars’ Taiwan distributor Motor Image Enterprise Ltd (意美汽車) were given fines of NT$500,000, NT$400,000 and NT$400,000 respectively, the commission said.