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Many children are impatient to get their license but waiting to be big enough and old enough to get their license and driving a car on their own feels as it will never happen. For those kids, there is the option of Power Wheels to give them some sense of what driving a car will feel like in a much safer way. But what are Power Wheels, and how did they originate?
Power Wheels are battery-operated toy cars made for children. The concept of Power Wheels was first developed by an Italian company, Peg-Perego, in the mid-1900s. The “Power Wheels” brand came into existence once the San Franciscan toy company, Kransko, bought out Peg-Pergeo’s subsidiary in 1984.
While Power Wheels is the most well-known distributor of battery-powered, drivable toy cars, it is not the only one. Read on to learn more about the history of Power Wheels—including the mergers that led to its rise—and its modern-day competitors, as well as how to pick the best option for your child. Let's answer this broad question about power wheels.
The History of Power Wheels
When Peg-Perego was created in 1949, they initially specialized in creating carriages for baby dolls. Eventually, they began to expand their horizons to toys which children would be able to ride.
At first, these ridable toys came with only pedals and wheels, but eventually, someone came up with the idea of putting gel cell batteries (longer-lasting, rechargeable, and safer for children) into the car. Thus, the first battery-powered toy vehicles were created.
Expansion to the United States
Wanting to expand their market to the United States, they opened a subsidiary company in the 1970s named Pines of America. Pines of America specialized in creating battery-powered toy cars and had great success selling these toy vehicles to toy companies around the country under the trademark names of TrailBlazer and Traffic Patrol.
Eventually, these toys caught the eye of a toy company named Kransko, which bought out Pines of America and renamed the vehicles “Power Wheels” in 1984.
Power Wheels Throughout the 1980s
By 1985, the year after Kransko bought Pines of America, they had three styles of battery-powered vehicles—a truck, a classic convertible, and a 3-wheeler all-terrain vehicle. In 1986, they added a jeep to the collection, and in the decades that followed, over 100 more vehicles would be created.
Between 1985 and 1986, they patented the dynamic braking system for the ATV, their assembly method for their vehicles, and their overall design, ensuring that they were at the top and most lucrative in their market.
Their marketing strategies were wildly successful. In the nine years between when Kransko purchased Pines of America and 1994, the Power Wheels line accounted for 80% of their sales.
When Mattel took over the Power Wheels line and placed it under their Fischer Price line, it still accounted for the success of the (much larger) business. To this day, even with several recalls, they are still a highly popular toy.
Power Wheels Today
Power Wheels are still a highly popular toy, not only among children but their parents, as well. There are several aspects of Power Wheels that make them easy to modify—such as their size and the fact that their design is the same across all of their vehicles—making it a relatively simple task for adults to hack into the system and “embellish” them bit.
Many parents who are impatient with the sedate maximum speed (5 miles per hour) that Power Wheels are created to reach have added voltage to give a little extra oomph. However, other parents have added sound systems, LED lights, and speedometers so that their children can really get the feeling of driving an actual car.
However, not all adults are interested in adding all the gadgets and gizmos for their kids. Some adults want Power Wheels for their own entertainment, and nowhere is this more evident than in Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing. In this activity, Power Wheels vehicles are raced down bumpy hills. It has gained enough popularity that there are now events such Rednecks with Paychecks, where prizes and money are awarded to the winners.
Vehicles in the Power Wheels Brand
The great thing about Power Wheels is the sheer variety of rough and tumble vehicle options they have. From Jeeps to ATVs to trucks in all different colors (or even designs to go along with your kiddo’s favorite TV show or movies), there is something for everyone’s personal taste.
Some of the different vehicles in the Power Wheels line include the following:
Hot Wheels Racer
This bright blue and orange car is perfect for the racecar lover in your family. It can be used on grass and pavement, has a maximum speed of 5 mph in drive, 2.5 mph in reverse, power lock brakes, and parental remote control in case sudden stops or slowdowns need to be made.
No matter what your kiddo’s color or style preference, there just might be a jeep for them, including a pink jeep and this black jeep, among many others. Both of these options come with power lock braking, parental remote control, high-speed lockout, a light bar, pretend fog lights, a radio that makes car noises, and a microphone. Other jeep options include JoJo Siwa and Frozen designs.
Perhaps you really love Jeeps, but your kid has a favorite character, or really loves a certain movie, and having a vehicle that reflects that would mean the world to them.
Well, if your kid falls in that category, there are five adorable options to pick from:
- JoJo Siwa Jeep Wrangler
- Minnie Mouse Jeep Wrangler
- Jurassic Park Jeep Wrangler
- Frozen Jeep Wrangler
- Minions Jeep Wrangler
- Spider Man Jeep Wrangler
- Barbie Jeep Wrangler
- Toy Story Jeep Wrangler
For those parents who want to get your kiddos used to roughing it on an all-terrain surface (but in a safe and much slower way), there are many ATVs to choose from, including this blue racing ATV, this Jurrasic Park themed ATV, a pink ATV, and a green and white ATV.
All of them can be driven on rough terrains (including wet grass) or cement, come with speed lockout and can reach speeds of 6 mph.
For those parents who’d like their kids to be able to go on off-road adventures but want a little more security, this vehicle is a great option. It has a steel frame, rugged tires, and sidebars, making it perfect for backyard driving. It also has a pretend light bar, power lock brakes, parent control, and high-speed lockout to keep the wildest of children safe.
Dune Racer Extreme
Another great off-road option is this beautiful lime green vehicle. With extra-wide tires and a frame that is low to the ground, this vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour on pavement, wet grass, and dirt. The steel frame and sidebars provide extra protection and support.
Two options for this vehicle include the gray Raptor and the Purple Camo. Both trucks can be driven in rugged terrain, have maximum speeds of 5 mph, have parental controls, high-speed lockout, and have bed space for your little one to haul around their toys.
Barbie Dream Camper
If your kiddo is all about barbies and making up games with them, then this adorable van is right up their alley. Some of its features include play food, a campfire, a fold-out grill, and a kitchen in the back of the car. It also comes with three songs at the ready and a Barbie voice GPS.
As with all the other vehicles in the Power Wheels line, it comes with parental control and high-speed lockout.
Harley Davidson Tricycle
While not a battery-powered vehicle, this tricycle comes with a Harley Davidson design, sure to make your kid feel cool while getting them outside and active. It has rugged tires designed for riding on cement or grass and comes with a storage compartment.
Alternative Power Wheels Brands
While Power Wheels is the most well-known brand of ride-on, battery-powered toy cars, they are far from the only brand that sells them. Maybe you want to compare the same kind of vehicle across the brands. Or perhaps, you simply want more options, such as sports cars or sleeker options. If that’s the case, here are some other well-liked brands with vehicle options:
Yes, the original creator of the toy vehicles still creates them. Their most popular option is the John Deere tractor which comes with extra traction, an FM radio, and an adjustable seat. It is perfect for those kids who live in more rural areas.
Peg Perego also has this construction loader which is great for the kid who loves digging and playing in the dirt. With a max speed of 4.5 miles per hour and digging capabilities. It also has an adjustable seat and can grow with your child.
Best Choice Products
Their well-liked jeep comes with parental remote control, seat belts, locking doors, and Bluetooth speakers. Best Choice also has this Lamborghini for those parents who want to share their love of sporty cars with their kids. It comes with parental controls and LED lights.
This brand is known for its Toyota Tundra replica, which comes with both manual and remote control, locking doors, built-in music, and a storage area for your little ones to haul around their stuff in, just like you would with a real truck.
For those kids (and their parents) who like sleek and flashy cars, Uenjoy has created this Mercedes Benz. Kids can control it while driving or by remote control to ensure maximum safety. It also comes with the functionality of being able to plug your phone or another Bluetooth-enabled device to play the music you like, as well as FM radio.
Uenjoy also has this option for the lovers of flashier cars. This car comes with a four-wheel, spring suspension, which will help ensure a safe and smooth ride and the capability of connecting your device to play music or podcasts. Additionally, it also has a convenient handle on the front that you can use to pull the car if it unexpectedly runs out of battery life.
For those kids who are a bit more wild and adventurous, Razor has created an ATV that can reach 8 mph, comes with shock absorbency, adjustable rise handlebars, and shatter-resistant plastic as your kids venture through the great outdoors.
This company has created a stylish Dodge Viper with all-terrain material on the wheels that can work on both concrete and on dirt. It can hold two people, carry up to 130 pounds, and reach maximum speeds in both forward and reverse.
Costzon has created an extremely realistic truck complete with both head and rear lights and three different speed options. The tires are wear-resistant, and it has magnetic locking doors.
For parents who want to give their kids the entire works of what it would be like to drive a car (albeit at a much slower speed), Japexty has made an Audi. This car comes with seat belts, a turn signal option, and start-up noises that mimic a real car.
Perfect for kids who enjoy going off-trail, this land rover comes with four-wheel suspension, seat belts, and gradual acceleration for extra safety. It also comes with a power display, a real key in the ignition to turn it on, rear mirrors on the side, and head and rear lights.
Kidzone offers this vehicle for parents of very young kids who they need to keep an extra close eye on or for those trying to keep their kids entertained on a rainy day when they can’t get outside.
This bumper car is perfect for indoor play. With joysticks that offer 360-degree maneuvering, a peak speed of .75 mph, and a soft bumper, you can let your kids go crazy without worrying about your furniture getting destroyed.
Why Are Power Wheels So Popular?
While there are now many options and brands to pick from and different people have different opinions, Power Wheels still remains the most popular for battery-operated, ride-on vehicles. Figuring out why exactly this is the case is fairly nuanced, but it seems to come down to a couple of things:
- Power Wheels has been around for a long time. People tend to trust companies that have built and sustained their products over an extended period.
- Many Power Wheels vehicles are two-seaters, whereas many others are only able to hold one child. This not only means that more kids can ride but that the weight capacity is higher. So, if you have a bigger kid, they will be able to enjoy their car for much longer.
A Guide to Finding Cheap Power Wheels that Are Worth It
Now that we’ve looked at some options for battery-powered vehicles that are not under the Power Wheels line, we can shift our focus back to Power Wheels. More importantly, how to go about trying to find a quality Power Wheels vehicle at an affordable price.
There are multiple ways to get a Power Wheels vehicle at reduced prices. The first way to narrow things down and focus on your search is to decide whether you want a used or new Power Wheels. From there, it will become a much simpler process, and you will be able to find websites that will help you find what you are looking for.
Used Power Wheels
Used items sometimes get a bad rap, and it can be a little anxiety-inducing to spend $100-200 on something that you will not be able to return if something ends up going wrong. However, they can often be the best option for low prices while still maintaining the item's quality. After all, sometimes they will be used once or twice before a kid gets bored with them. You just have to be willing to take a little risk.
When it comes to Power Wheels, it can be doubly beneficial by not only giving you a quality item but by providing the potential to find a Power Wheels that is no longer being made. Sometimes this means it will actually be a little more expensive, but not always.
There are several websites that offer used Power Wheels, such as:
This website offers a variety of used products, but you can narrow down your search by simply putting “Power Wheels” into the search bar or searching directly from google with “Power Wheels” and “Mercari” as your search words.
If you need some reassurance that you are getting a quality item in good condition, the seller’s reviews and ratings are listed at the bottom of the page. You can get an idea of whether they have a good track record with both timely delivery and whether the items they are selling are in good condition.
eBay’s classic model uses an auction-type selling model, but more recently, they have added an option where items can just be listed at a specific price instead of you having to haggle with someone else and winning the right to purchase an item.
However, if you enjoy the thrill of the haggle, then you have the option for both! The great thing about eBay is that there is often more than one person selling the same item, so if the price gets too high, you can always put a bid in on another, and on eBay, you can find those cars still being made such as the Dune Racer as well as the Cadillac Escalade.
Social media websites, such as Facebook, also have market pages where people sell used items. It may take a bit of patience, but if you have time, then it might pay to keep an eye out there in addition to checking out E-Bay and Mercari.
New Power Wheels
If you want the assurance that your Power Wheels will have the quality and be in top condition, buying new is the best way to do that. However, retail price Power Wheels can get very pricy, so how exactly can you get a new one for the price of a used one? There are a couple of ways to have the best of both worlds.
One way is by bookmarking passionforsavings.com. There, they will have a list of deals and sales that various stores have on different products-Power Wheels included. They have a whole page specifically dedicated to Power Wheels deals and the different stores offering sales—particularly around the holidays.
Another way is to check bestdeals.today and search Power Wheels. They will have a combination of both used and new Power Wheels and where you can find them on different internet marketplaces. This website provides a bunch of different stores for you to peruse with just a click.
Before Power Wheels became so well known, battery-powered vehicles were designed and created by the Italian toy company, Peg-Perego. In 1985, they sold their American subsidiary, Pines of America (which focused on battery-operated ride-ons), to the San Franciscan toy company, Kransko, who renamed the line of cars Power Wheels. Several years later, Mattel bought the Power Wheels line and placed it in their Fischer Price subsidiary.
Over time Power Wheels has offered many different kinds of ride-on vehicles, and though they now mainly sell trucks, jeeps, and ATVs, you can find many classic Power Wheels through online markets such as eBay and Mercari. Suppose you are looking for style and price comparison or want other vehicle options. In that case, many different companies now make battery-operated ride-on vehicles, including Kidzone and Uenjoy.