Back in the ‘90s when my kids were toddlers, my Silicon Valley neighborhood had a Cozy Coupe kid-size car in every driveway. In fact, in 2009, the 30th anniversary of the Cozy Coupe’s introduction, the vehicle claimed the title of the best selling car in America, outselling the tremendously popular (adult-sized) Ford F-series pickup. Talk about a classic car!
Tesla Motors, it turns out, wants a piece of that market. The company is now accepting pre-orders for its first kiddie-car, a US $499 all-electric model designed in partnership with red-wagon maker Radio Flyer.
The basic “Tesla Model S for Kids” (couldn’t they come up with a shorter name?) has a 130-watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, working headlights, and a sound system. It’s available in red, silver, and blue. It has a top speed of 6 mph, but parents can choose to lower the top speed to 3 mph. It holds a driver who weighs up to 81 lbs; there is no passenger seat, but there is a “frunk” (a front trunk) to hold emergency snacks and teddy bears.
Fully tricked out with all the extras, including a premium 190-Wh battery, a spare premium battery, “silver turbine wheels,” a personalized license plate, and a car cover, this mini Model S will cost more than $800. (A Cozy Coupe will set you back $49 these days)
In spite of the cost, this new electric vehicle is sure to be a huge hit in Silicon Valley—and I’m guessing I’ll see more than a few tiny Model S’s zipping around the bins of sodas and beer at block parties this summer.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.