AI-generated image of 'new Mitsubishi electric' car at Thai Motor Expo misleads online

 Social media posts shared an image of a futuristic-looking car with a false claim that it shows a new electric car unveiled by a Japanese automaker at the 2023 Thailand Motor Expo. The user who made the image told AFP it was created using artificial intelligence and the official lineup of vehicles at the event does not include the purported car model.  

"New look of Mitsubishi!! The 40th #MotorExpo or "Motor Expo 2023" is taking place between November 30 to December 11, 2023, at Muang Thong Thani," reads the Thai caption of a post on the Facebook page of the news website Thai Tribune.

The post, published on December 6, 2023, shares a photo of a round, pastel-coloured car. Some people can be seen in the background. 

The same caption goes on, "#Mitsubishi has designed a two-seat electric car with 360 degree viewing radius and sweet pastel colour!"

The post has been shared 6,000 times and received over 4,000 likes.

A screenshot of the Facebook post sharing an AI-generated image with false claim

The same image with a similar claim was shared on Facebook here, here, and here, on X here, and on TikTok here.

The comments show many social media users believe that the image is genuine.

"Is this an electric car? I'm interested. How much?" one Facebook user writes.

"Very cute. I'd like to buy one for a nice ride through Bangkok's small alleys," another user comments.

The image, however, was created using AI technology and no such car was included in the expo. 

AI-generated image

Reverse image search on Google led to an X account which regularly shares similar images of futuristic cars such as here and here (archived links here and here).

The X user, @oyakatatumuri, confirmed with AFP that the image was created using an AI tool.

"The photo was generated by AI. It's what I made with Image Creator," the X user told AFP on January 5, 2024. 

The user's now-deleted post was originally published on December 5, 2023.

The post's caption reads in Japanese, "If you round it up more, the tire won't bend, but Mitsubishi's tires tend to roll up easily."

Below is a screenshot comparison between the false post (left) and the AI-generated image first shared on X (right):

A screenshot comparison between the false post (left) and the original post sharing the AI-generated image (right)

Misspelled brand and misshapen body parts

AFP can identify that the photo was likely generated using AI due to some visual clues such as the misspelling of the automobile brand, which reads "Mitubishi" instead of "Mitsubishi."

Below is a screenshot of the AI-generated image with the wrongly spelled automobile brand highlighted by AFP:

A screenshot of the AI-generated image with the misspelled automobile brand highlighted by AFP

Other signs that indicate that the image was generated by AI are misshapen and missing body parts. 

Below are two examples, which show a person with misshapen legs and another one with no head, as marked by AFP: 

Image in false post shows a person with no head and another one with misshapen legs, as highlighted by AFP

No such car at 2023 Motor Expo 

Mitsubishi Motors published photos of their vehicles showcased at the 2023 Thailand International Motor Expo in their verified social media page linked to the official Mitsubishi website here and here, but none of them matched the AI-generated image published in the false posts (archived links here, here and here).

Official press release from Mitsubishi about their vehicle lineup for the 2023 Thai Motor Expo also did not say anything or show any photo about a new electric car with the same look and features as that of the one seen in the AI-generated image (archived link). 

AFP reached out to Mitsubishi Motors for a comment but did not get a reply at the time of publication.

The official website of the Thai Motor Expo has published photos of the event's "outstanding electric vehicles" as well as "newly launched cars" featured in 2023 and the "Mitubishi" car shared in the false posts is not included in both categories (archived links here and here).

AFP has debunked other misinformation linked to AI-generated content here, here, and here and has published an article about tips in identifying AI-generated images.

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