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Instant Analysis: Tesla and Radio Flyer Team Up to Build Car for Kids

By Eric Volkman - Feb 18, 2016 at 10:37AM

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The new mini Model S starts at $499.

What happened?
Did you know that the brand-new car from Tesla Motors (TSLA 4.53%) can be had for a mere $499?

But there is, of course, a small catch -- quite literally small. The new ride is a children's version of the company's Model S sedan, a more-or-less accurately scaled-down iteration of the real thing. Tesla is producing the mini Model S in collaboration with privately held Radio Flyer, a company best known for its iconic line of decidedly low-tech children's wagons.

It's powered by a lithium ion battery -- rechargeable, of course -- and is available in three colors: red, blue, and gray. It reaches a maximum of 6 miles per hour for budding speed demons. A "frunk" compartment in the front provides a bit of storage, while a port allows for your mini-me to plug in his or her smartphone or other device.

As with any car model worth its horsepower, the Model S for kids has several options. Users can pay extra to upgrade the base model with a "premium" battery, or to customize the license plate on the rear, for example.

The car is available for pre-order through Radio Flyer's website. That company says it will start shipping it in May.

Does it matter?
To anyone watching their investment in Tesla Motors, probably not. The market for kids' cars is, to put it mildly, rather limited, while the company's take from a joint venture selling $500 vehicles is probably not going to amount to much.

The Model S for kids does, however, demonstrate Tesla's appealing tendency to consider non-mainstream projects, not to mention business partners. And it certainly won't hurt to get the company's brand out there a little more, as Teslas for grown-ups are expensive and relatively rare to see on the road.

This project isn't a stock-mover in any way. Still, it's a cool diversion for the company. So file this under "fun and interesting development" for Tesla, nothing more.

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