Speed Is Never Cheap

Dec 02, 2011 17 Comments by

The Traxxas X0-1 has set off an avalanche of comments on the social media sites.  We’ve posted multiple videos, interviews and behind the scenes clips of this car, and I’m surprised with the reactions this car is getting.   Rarely have I seen such a polarizing vehicle release.  RC’ers seem to fall into one of two categories: they either love it or hate it.  The number one complaint?  Price.  It’s $1100, with two 3S lipos included.  Some of you have seen this price and blurted out “it’s overpriced.”  Really?

For so many people to say the X0-1 is overpriced is a bit surprising.  I visited a popular LiPo company’s website and priced a typical 3S pack at around $150 each.  So the X0-1, which includes TWO 3S packs in the box, is priced at $1100with approximately $300 in batteries included.  Knock that $1100 price tag down to $800.

So for $800, you’re also getting a 2.4ghz radio system that is the first of its kind–it has full telemetry (more telemetry functions than any other RC radio, ever), and it’s Apple compatible, for those of you with iPhone and iTouch devices.  The radio transforms like Optimus Prime into a dashboard with every telemetry function you can think of, plus programming.  How much do you believe this technology cost to develop, program, and produce?  I know one thing, it couldn’t have been cheap.  The average basic telemetry radio may cost around $250, and that’s without this cool technology.  Traxxas has to pay for all of this new innovation somehow.  But let’s just say that having a radio like this would cost around $300, so take that off the $800 price we just calculated; now with the batteries & radio included, we’re down to $500 for the car.

But wait; at $500, you also have a monstrous Castle Creations brushless motor and speed controller included–one that has the massive horsepower to push this vehicle to 100mph.  A power system this obscenely strong is typically found in large scale RC helicopters, and such a motor typically prices around $250-$300, just for the motor.  Let’s say just for the heck of it that the ESC costs $50.  So you’re in for $350 (optimistically) for just the power system in this car.  Take $350 out of the price of the car, and we’re down to $150 for the X0-1.  A vehicle engineered with the ability to travel repeatedly, out of the box, at 100mph, with tires that won’t explode or a body that won’t fold into origami at speed or a drivetrain that won’t tear itself apart.   Also consider that top speed is the cube root of horsepower. Wind resistance increases the faster you go, standard RC tires explode at high RPM, and parts fail unless they are premium quality.  A 50mph vehicle is fast.  Pushing one to 100mph requires exponentially more power, higher quality components, and advanced engineering design.  These things aren’t cheap.  Is Traxxas supposed to just give this car away, or not recoup any of their R&D investments, engineering investments, new tooling costs or increased operating costs?  Is $150 too much for the rolling chassis?

When all of these component prices are taken into account, plus manufacturing costs, PLUS the engineering knowledge, testing, R&D, and quality control required to produce an RC vehicle out of the box that can travel at 100mph, the X0-1′s $1100 price seems almost like a bargain.

This leads me to my final question.  Many of you may be thinking I’m defending Traxxas’ pricing, when I’m really just breaking down the component costs.  How much did YOU believe a vehicle like this would cost?  What’s “reasonable” to you?  $700?  $500?  $900?  And if you DO have a number in mind, please tell me how you calculated this number in your head.  Did you take any of these factors–new technology costs, manufacturing costs, R&D costs, engineering costs, etc–into account?  Have you considered that this $1100 price may also be an intended barrier to entry for people (children) who have no business driving a car at 100mph?   The average 1/8-scale buggy costs well over $1000 by the time it’s trimmed out with electronics, engine, pipe and tires, but no one cries foul about that cost.

That so many people have been so quick to dismiss this car as “overpriced” has me enthralled.  I’m curious what you think this car should have cost, and WHY, and I’m eager to hear from you.

Featured News, Stephen Bess, Uncategorized

About the author

Executive Editor I jumped into R/C back in 1987, when mechanical speed controllers and hard rubber tires were all the rage. Since then, I’ve experienced R/C in almost every state in the USA. I've built and raced every type of RC vehicle created, and traveled throughout the country (and world) to attend and cover more R/C events than I can remember. But what a fun ride it's been! I'm fortunate to live in Southern California, and I take advantage of my location by enjoying R/C outdoors year ‘round. Club racing is the future for R/C growth, and I’m always looking to bring new people into the hobby, whether it’s through backyard bashing or organized racing.

17 Responses to “Speed Is Never Cheap”

  1. Shaun says:

    Very Well put. I saw the price tag and went to myself “holy crap, I can’t afford that” but I did not think it was too much. It actually made me laugh because Traxxas doesn’t incredibly overprice their stuff. You see a bigger price tag than another, sure, but you don’t see what they have inside the truck,car,boat. Alot and I mean ALOT of R&D. If you don’t like “different” then go buy that other car. The Spartan’s removable system, Slash, 3.3 engine, 4 wheel drive done right. All of it had a price tag on their part.

    I’m not defending the obvious overpricing of things. Everyone does that. It’s business. But this car is not overpriced.

    Anyone remember the Sony PS3′s price? 600 bucks? They actually were losing 100-200 dollars PER console to sell them. Traxxas did one hell of a number with this new car. It’s got a new car Pricetag.

    And Stephen, that motor price is most certainly a optimistic price. A Mamba Monster system is 350$. This one’s substantially bigger with a capacitor beefed up ESC.

    Great Article. I’m looking forward to buying one of these and Converting it to RALLY.

    • Stephen Bess says:

      Thanks for the reply Shaun, and you’re right–$350 is certainly optimistic for the power system. A motor/ESC combo with that type of power potential would more likely go for around $500.

  2. john says:

    ok well here is my thought on this as a 40 yr old been in the hobby for many yrs but also limited funds. 1st off not everyone has a apple phone or ipod. i personaly dont want nor can afford either. 2nd a 100mph toy? who really has room to run this ? i feel traxxas dropped the ball and went into left field on this one cause unless they are shooting for well off people with tracks of thier own or live in a place with speed runs they lost the normal consumer .It is quite impressive with all the new technology yes and yes its not a cheap thing to design or make but really a 100mph car? when in my area short course racing is big and during the winter here in indiana we run indoors i dont know of any space big enough for something like that . I enjoy traxxas products and had several in the past but i think most of us expected either a 5th scale offroad gasoline vehicle or a short course style buggy .Good luck to them with this one and those who can afford it more power to you but for me its a useless release .Speed is dangerous when it comes to these cars

  3. Mike says:

    i just think that its like if chevrolet were to go out and produce a 1.5 million dollar supercar, when everyone had been clamoring for years for and updated affordable SUV. its not a bad product at all, in fact it is truly impressive. i just see this car as one that is going to be like the ferraris one sees only in magazines. its too expensive of a product for what it can do. yes it can go 100 mph, but only with additional equipent and only for people that have the space. it simply is not a product for the masses or one that people have been asking for. people have said for years the want a buggy, and when traxxas builds such an elite product its kind of like a slap in the face to their consumers, who are going to then complain about anything, even price

    • Stephen Bess says:

      Chevy produces the $130,000 ZR1 Corvette, which clearly isn’t priced to Chevy’s target demographic…is that a ‘slap in the face to their consumers’ as well? Thanks for the comment, this is a great discussion!

  4. terry perrin says:

    Nobody needs to defend traxxas. I just do not understand the reason for a car of that size being powered by electric. Where on earth is anybody supposed to drive it. My feelings are that it is nothing more than a gimmick just like the I phone. All they are really achieving is taking the skill from tuning chassis motor etc and running a high speed car park smasher to sell spares. It just may be that in the States you have room and the weather but not in the Uk. I have previously owned a 2 speed T max with a ridiculous amount of faults from new and would therefor be critical by default.
    When you consider the price of a 10th race chassis to build and set up its not that expensive but to be honest cost is not my question. As I no longer race but still enjoy driving my cars, they just seem like a big toy with all the gimmicks that would mean very little to a racer in the heat of the moment and as we all know that the next run will be totally different from the last so just what is the point of telemetry unless you have a fully functioning pit crew and make adjustments during a run I just do not think so. I would rather spend my cash on a Losi 5t and enjoy the fun of playing.

  5. JoeC says:

    I’ve been trying to convert an electric 1/8th scale buggy into a 100 MPH… electric 1/8th scale buggy for a while now. So far, with all of the necessary equipment to keep this thing on the road, (a gyro, aircraft transmitter to adjust the gyro sensitivity, external BEC, significant aerodynamic mods) I’ve pushed the price tag of this buggy beyond $2k. Not to mention trying to find tires that won’t explode means that you have to buy 4 new tires and actually test them to find out if they’ll work or not, and if they don’t, then you’re out whatever you spent on those tires. After all of that, I STILL haven’t broken 100 MPH because finding a long/flat enough road/lot that doesn’t have cars in/on it is nearly impossible.

  6. Mister J says:

    The pricetag hasn’t bothered me at all, it’s not a bad value. it’s the seemingly limited scope of what the car is for – going 100mph. It’s an awesome achievement and Traxxas should be commended for building something that capable, but… outside of a real race track, where can you really drive it? It seems like too much power for a typical on-road track, and driving it on a street or in a parking lot is asking for trouble.

    What amuses me, however, is the whining about it being an iOS-compatible device. Specifically, the braying and screaming from Android owners who complain about it in one breath, then say they won’t buy it in another. As a developer, this is exactly why I have no interest in the Android platform – they’re not willing to spend money, and the discussions around the XO are only strengthening that stereotype.

    • Stephen Bess says:

      One thing I think people may overlook is that this car doesn’t have to be driven every single time out at 100mph. The emphasis is that it’s “100mph CAPABLE.” Out of the box it does 50mph, which is still incredibly fast…fast enough for most people think it’s going 100mph already. It’s like having a Porsche or Ferrari capable of going 190mph…how often do Porsche owners drive that fast? It’s just fun to know the car is capable of going that fast…

      • Shaun says:

        Exactly. That’s really the bottom line as far as this debate goes. Almost everyone ‘wants’ or ‘wanted’ a sports car as a kid or today as you read this. You are wanting a 160-210mph Car. And you validate that in your head, but not an RC? It’s a ‘tad’ silly. I’m sure this car will work fantastic at 50 and in a touring world. If this sets off, Huge straight-away tracks into technical turns and banks, Other’s will use these specs to compete with the Car…

        Slash anyone?

  7. Greg Zielinski says:

    I agree on the pricing and the thing is a technical marvel. Just tonight we had discussion about blown out tires and speed controls chasing the speed crown. If any one of us even got a 100 mph blip on the speed radar we’d be ecstatic. Then out of a nowhere a turnkey car that’ll do 100mph pass after pass? The way I see it, we can have plenty of fun doing 60-70mph runs with an occasional blip in the 80-90 territory and it would seem this thing isn’t even breaking a sweat. Also, what a wonderful bit of PR seeing this car show up in automobile magazines and “best of” Christmas gift lists. It reminds me of the Dodge Viper. Not everyone could own one but its mere existence in the Dodge fleet seemed to give the brand a heck of a boost when it was introduced. That or what Audi did with the R8 and having future models take styling cues from it. All I hope is that we have responsible owners and don’t hear any news stories regarding injury or death from one of these bad boys. That or the surface guys are going to need an AMA equivalent to purchase liability insurace.

  8. Brian says:

    Perception is reality in our world, and Traxxas may have overplayed it’s marketing prowess on this one. Guesses as to what they were releasing were all over the place – SCT, buggy, SCB, etc. But one thing most people expected – that the vehicle would be for the vast RC customer base that Traxxas has created and reinvigorated. The price is merely a sideshow issue.

    I”m one of those folk, and I am disappointed. Yes, I love the car. Love to race it. Two problems. I don’t have a track or suitable area to race this speed monster without destroying property or putting life and limb in danger. Second, $1,000 is out of my price range since I’m a weekend warrior, not a regular club racer. In all likelihood, I’ll never see this in person, just YouTube.

    That said, I get the thrust of what Traxxas is attempting (in my opinion). It’s a marketing tool like a new concept car from a 1:1 manufacturer. No one will ever sit in it, let alone buy it. But it lays the groundwork for buzz in the public arena and establishes the latest and greatest technology that will trickle down into the real world, where there is a speed limit.

    So, all the best to Traxxas, but maybe next time, release the vehicle with a little more explanation of your objective. All disappointment comes from unmet expectations, and I would argue that the X0-1 broke the law of customer expectations. This new release ran off the track – at 100 mph.

    (But wouldn’t we all love to see that crash?)

  9. Allen Mozak says:

    I am a 100% guilty of saying its overpriced! First off let me say this, I have never been a fan of Traxxas and the way a lot of people in the hobby have jumped on the “Traxxas” band wagon. A lot of my local area hobby shops have stopped carrying names like TEAM ASSOCIATED, TAMIYA and other large players due to the fact Traxxas out sells them.

    I have been in the Hobby for a long time. My first car was the original Tamiya Hot Shot. So I have seen a lot of new technology developed over the years and sure new products do come at a cost and I understand that 100%.
    I recently got in to 1/8th scale buggies and yes all said and done you are looking at a cost of 1000 plus dollars. That being said…I cant afford 1100 plus taxes (plus I-pod and Traxxas App Costs) all at once so I have always bought my vehicles in stages….Car Kit….Radio….Motor …Batteries or fuel, over 6 months or a year its not so bad.

    What also gets me…ALL the video’s I have seen for X1-0, it says 100MPH out of the box and that makes me laugh because its only 100 MPH out of the box if u have a I-pod or I-phone and buy the Traxxas app. Which none of the these promo video’s state.

    Maybe The solution is to put the product out as bind and drive. 500 for the car. I have 4 or 5 radio’s already. I have 3s batteries. I think the all inclusive price maybe whats holding back people who think its to expensive?

    Just my take on it.

  10. Brian says:

    I’ll bite. I still think it’s overpriced..

    Batteries- You state $150 per pack? Hardly.. the same packs that Traxxas includes sell for around $80 each. The $150 that you quoted for a single pack would almost buy both packs.

    ESC – There’s probably no more than $75-100 in parts in that ESC. They didn’t have to develop anything new. It’s existing Castle technology in a new case. I’m betting it’s a variation of their Phoenix 2 line.

    Motor – Brushless motors can be had cheap nowadays. Just because it has a name brand on it doesn’t make it faster. Large heli motors can be had for around $50-75, so I’m going to shoot high and say $100 for the motor.

    Radio – 2.4ghz is cheap now, and it’s basically a Traxxas TQ radio with telemetry and a new case. You can buy telemetry addons for any radio system for around $30 now. Also, the iPhone integration comes with the stand, which isn’t even included, so you can throw that out right there. I’m going to say that radio is worth maybe $75??

    Roller- I’ll accept the $150 for the roller, even though 80-90% of the car is made from existing Traxxas parts (Slash 4×4).

    By my math that’s $635, or just over half of what they’re asking for it. Yes, I understand marketing and development costs, but let’s be realistic here- the majority of this vehicle is recycled parts like most Traxxas models. Also, you’re right about not having to drive the vehicle at 100mph all the time, but then you’re stuck with a vehicle that’s an awkward scale that really doesn’t fit in anywhere else. Say what you will, but this car’s only useful purpose (if that’s rally useful..) is going fast in a straight line. Even then, the vast majority aren’t going to have a location to run it.

  11. Jim D says:

    Traxxas is getting what they wanted from the X0-1, the attention of the RC world.

    That’s not a bad thing but they should have capitalized on it with releasing a few new models with the X0-1 as the headliner. This week or next would have been a great time to announce their own SCB and/or 1/5 gas SCT/B or new 1/10 on-road chassis. Well actually would have been better if they would have announced it all a month or so sooner and have the products available by Black Friday. (Which one of us don’t mind getting some new RC gear for Christmas?…lol)

    @Brian…waiting on the crash videos myself!

  12. Jimmy says:

    I’ve followed this release pretty closely, as I am a huge Traxxas fan. I was hoping for a 1/8th scale buggy.

    I think we are starting to see the value in this car. It’s not a vehicle that Traxxas is going to sell a ton of, it’s a halo car. Traxxas made it because they could, not to please anybody. What other RC car has been on Yahoo’s front page? Fox new’s page? The Top Gear UK website? Has over 1 million views on Youtube? This car is generating more publicity for Traxxas than any car they have made before. For every RC person who is unhappy with this release, there are probably 100 people who are looking into hobby class RC that were not before. That is the value of this car.

    The pricing to me seems correct for what comes in the box.

    What most people can’t look past is how it’s advertised. Yes it can go 100, but it doesn’t have to. I want one to run on 4s and parking lot race with 1/8 scale GT cars. It will probably never see 100mph.

    And most of this car is not recycled. If you look on the Traxxas website you will see that. Suspension arms, diffs, shocks. What else? That’s not a “majority of the vehicle” as far as I’m concerned.

    Most people can see the technology in this car and can see that it will trickle down into all Traxxas’ current and future models. It makes me excited for whats next.

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