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Barbie’s gone electric! The doll’s life-size EV is marketing Mattel’s sustainability

I'm a Barbie girl in an... EV world?

Barbie’s gone electric! The doll’s life-size EV is marketing Mattel’s sustainability
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

Among the various EVs currently on display at the LA Auto Show, there’s one that definitely steals the show.

It’s glittery af and has a bubblegum pink interior. It’s the life-size Barbie Extra Car.

Barbie Extra EV
Yep, that’s a Barbie car all the way. Credit: Mattel

And, boy, is it extravagant!

It has winged doors, an all-pink interior with fluffy headrests, star-shaped head and taillights, and rainbow-painted five-spoke wheels. 

Barbie Extra EV
Credit: Mattel
Barbie Extra EV
Credit: Mattel

And wrap your head around this: the Barbie Car at the Auto Show is actually drivable, because it’s a modified Fiat 500e convertible.

As such, it has an electric powertrain with 111hp and a 170km of range.

But, dear Barbie lovers all over the world, can you actually buy it? No, you can’t. Fiat didn’t have any part in the car’s creation and Mattel isn’t planning to manufacture or sell it for drivers with licenses.

But you could buy the next ‘best’ thing: the Barbie Extra toy car.

And you can buy it exclusively from Walmart for $29.88.

Barbie Extra EV
Looks much less impressive as a toy car. Credit: Walmart

So… it turns out that the Barbie life-size EV is actually a marketing stunt.

Come on Barbie let’s go… electric?

Sure, we can assume that parents who visited the Auto Show got inspired by the Barbie Car’s glamorous and sustainable style and decided to buy its toy equivalent for their children.

But I suspect Mattel’s marketing strategy goes further than that.

In August, the company updated its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy. According to the new goals, Mattel plans to reduce greenhouse emissions by 50% and achieve zero manufacturing waste by 2030. Of course, this involves all of its sub-brands, including… Barbie. 

So what better way to demonstrate Barbie’s transition to sustainability than with a specially made EV, featuring among the vehicles of the future?

I mean, automakers can make use of pop culture to promote their products. And in turn, pop culture can use an industry under transformation to promote its own.

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