When imitation isn’t so flattering…


Scootercatalog.com's version of a Tesla Roadster
Scootercatalog.com's version of a Tesla Roadster


Much to my delight, EVs have slowly but surely been infiltrating various forms of pop culture in the last few years- first, a Tesla Roadster appeared in the Xbox 360 game “Project Gotham Racing 4“- then it went on to appear in “Ironman“, “Leverage“, and finally (my favorite) as a $1 Hotwheels car- by far the most requested piece of merchandise among EV drivers of various sorts. The Volt has gotten in on the fun, too, with an appearance of sorts in this summer’s “Transformers 2” in a purple color that can’t be missed. 

But scootercatalog.com has added a “Tesla Dream Roadster-style” ride-on toy to the mix. Intended for kids under 6, the very obvious knock-off looks nothing like a Tesla (and interestingly, the page address notes it also as a “Corvette-style” car.) I’m sure the Tesla folks will be offended enough to have their car featured in something called “scooter catalog”, but even more so that the site’s “dream” version of the iconic zero-emissions vehicle includes not one, not two- but four TAILPIPES. I’m just waiting for someone to claim this is an oil industry-funded stunt…

UPDATE #2: As of early July, all references to Tesla on the ScooterCatalog page have been removed. Based on all the inquiries to them I was copied on, can’t say I’m surprised…turns out they weren’t so flattered, either. 

UPDATE: So I couldn’t help but write to the website and suggest that the tailpipes might be a more sensitive design deviation than most, and loved their response so much (hey, I’m easily entertained) that I had to post it below. They definitely have a creative definition of both “opinion” and “customer service”!


From: Sales at Scootercatalog.com (sales@scootercatalog.com)
Sent: Mon 6/15/09 3:41 AM
To: Chelsea Sexton


Thank You for the opinion, others have a different one though. 

Customer service

From: Chelsea Sexton
To: sales@scootercatalog.com
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 7:34:54 PM
Subject: Tesla Roadster ride-on car

I was so excited to see your “Tesla Roadster-style” ride on car, but I’m thinking you might have a fundamental misunderstanding of what a Tesla is…Given that it’s fully electric, there is no exhaust, and therefore no tailpipe- let alone dual exhaust on each side! The other design differences are one thing, given that this is clearly an imitation, but anyone who actually wants a Tesla for their kid isn’t going to overlook that one. 

Best regards, 
chelsea sexton



19 thoughts on “When imitation isn’t so flattering…

  1. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; however as the proud driver of a powerful, non-polluting new Tesla roadster (that most certainly does not have even the hint of a tailpipe) I am neither amused nor flattered.

    Since the very essence of a Tesla is the fact that it is a zero emissions vehicle, I can’t imagine what scootercatelog was thinking when they added not one (silly enough) but DUEL exhaust tailpipes.

    Kids need to learn about the cost of exhaust. Why is scooter lauding tailpipes as something cool on a toy car pro porting to represent an electric vehicle?

  2. This is wonderful. A perfect intersection of my interest in EVs, error-identification, notification of errors, and confirmation of stupidity.

    Now, are you going to buy one?

  3. I saw this on Autobloggreen. The flippant denial of reality in the reply is quite infuriating. I took it upon myself to write to them as well. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks Duncan and everyone who also wrote the company. I know it’s been passed on to the legal beagles at Tesla too, so will be fun to see if they leave the page as-is.

  4. I just went to the site and they didn’t quite remove all the references to Tesla. The titlle of the webpage still say “Remote Controlled Tesla Dream Roadster Style Kids Ride on electric Car.” Maybe somebody at Tesla should be informed.

    On a side note Chelsea, I was wondering how many people were actually charged with something that got arrested when the protest went on to stop GM from taking all the EV1s?


    1. Ahh, interesting. I did alert Tesla at the time, but they may need to follow-up.

      Two people were arrested and charged (the two women shown in the film), basically for blocking the sidewalk with their vehicle. They each spent several hours in jail (don’t think they stayed overnight), paid a fine for the emergency services the City was “forced” to provide, and did community service.

      1. Thanks for the reply back. Good to know that nothing really serious happened as they probably only stayed in the holding cell at the station while the paperwork was taken care of. It probably could have been a lot worse if GM wanted to get nasty about it, as they probably could have filed charges. From what I saw in the film, it looked like the officers did their job good, i.e., did not use excessive force and only did what they needed to. Though that had a lot to do with you guys not becoming a bunch of roudy protestors. Sorry to go off topic (I’m trying to become a cop and I don’t like when cops treat civilians poorly or when civilians bash cops for no reason (not that you did), that was just why I was curious).

        Keep up the good work and look forward to reading more of your posts. Looking forward to many more interesting posts. Maybe you can do one where you remiscent about the EV1 and your experience with it. What you liked about it and what you thought could have been done better maybe.


      2. Matt-

        Yes, the police (and City of Burbank) were totally professional and courteous; we had no complaints with them at all. You’re right though, that we were also very careful in our planning- made sure there was nothing involving safety risk or property damage involved, and picked the least-dramatic approach (blocking the driveway) to serve the purpose.

        I did have an experience with a couple Arizona State troopers later that night that was not nearly as professional- but it was quite informative and a rather colorful, graphic memory for the archives of the overall story!

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