As low gas prices threaten widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and as profits continue to evade luxury electric car maker Tesla, the company is taking a creative approach to marketing to the next generation.
This week, Tesla announced a new version of its popular Model S sedan: a miniature one, shrunken to suit the needs of future electric vehicle buyers who today are between 3 and 8 years old.
The electric car company has teamed up with Radio Flyer, a century-old maker of the iconic red wagons and tricycles for kids, to release the little luxury car, which will be available in May.
It comes replete with features that “recreate the ultimate Tesla experience,” as the companies advertise. These include a vanity plate, working headlights, an audio system that connects to a tot’s MP3 player, a trunk under the front hood, a Tesla car cover, and customizable Model S colors.
The $499 "Model S for Kids" can handle 81 pounds of weight and tops out at 6 miles per hour, though a 3 mile per hour speed limit is available for inexperienced drivers. The kid car comes with a lithium-ion battery that charges in three hours when plugged into a wall socket or externally. The battery can be swapped out, something the company has had trouble with on the real Model S, as the Verge points out.
The kid car comes alongside an announcement to entice Tesla's grown-up fans waiting for an affordable version of its luxury sedans, currently starting at $70,000.
In last week’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla will unveil its third car model by March 31, with production set to begin by the end of 2017.
The Model 3 is expected to have a range of 200 miles and a starting price of $35,000 before incentives. Tesla says it will start taking reservations – with a $1,000 down payment – in stores on March 31 and online April 1.