The ad, created by WCRS, stated: "The BMW Concept ActiveE is the first BMW to be powered purely by electricity," and used the tagline "100% joy, 0% emissions".
A viewer complained that the claim of "zero CO2 when driving" could not be substantiated, as the car would be charged with electricity from the National Grid, which would result in the production of emissions.
BMW argued that the inclusion of the phrase "when driving" limited the claim, and did not suggest the ad was referring to the vehicle’s entire life cycle.
However, the ASA has referred to a previous judgment, when it banned a Renault ad for its ‘zero emissions’ electric car range. Seventeen viewers complained that Renault’s "'zero-emission vehicles' line did not take the full life cycle of the vehicle into account", and the complaint was upheld by the ASA.
An ASA spokesman said: "We considered that [BMW's] inclusion of the phrase 'when driving' was contradictory to the overall zero emission claim, and the impression that the car's use would not result in the production of emissions."
As a result, the ad must not appear again in its current form, and BMW has been warned not to repeat claims implying that an electric vehicle would produce zero emissions in use.