Non-profit organisation France Nature Environment (FNE) filed the lawsuit last April against print and television commercials that feature Toyota HiLux, LandCruiser and RAV4 models driving through sand, snow, streams, green scrubland and over rocks, performing typical off-road manoeuvres.
Although Toyota’s lawyers argued that the advertisements were filmed and photographed overseas and therefore not subject to French law, the judge from Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, sided with FNE, ruling that the ads encouraged destructive behaviour.
“These advertisements promote environmentally unfriendly behaviour that goes against the preservation of natural resources,” the judge said, as reported by AFP.
Toyota was one of five automotive manufacturers found to be in breach of France’s advertising ethics code in December 2011 in relation to its commercials that showcased the off-road ability of its vehicles. The other four car makers chose to remove their ads while Toyota resisted, leading to FNE’s legal action.
Toyota released a statement following the judge’s ruling insisting that it had no plans to file an appeal and has started removing its banned advertising material.
The French division of the Japanese manufacturing powerhouse said it was surprised by the ruling as it has always sought permission to film in off-road locations and in some circumstances has even filmed off-road scenes in studios.
The judge gave Toyota one month to remove the banned commercials from print, billboards, TV and the internet, and faces a fine of 100 euros ($125) per ad per day if the ads have not been removed after that point.