Product Positioning: Terrible Cars & Space Rides

As something of a computer and video game geek in my youth, I was a fan of the Sinclair Spectrum when I was a lad. I believe I had a Sinclair Spectrum 48k for my 9th birthday in 1983, which followed hot on the heels of a Commodore Vic 20, an Atari, and other early video game and computer systems. Sinclair did not stop at computers, though, and they followed up their success in computing with the world’s first electronic car – the Sinclair C5.


The World’s Worst Car

The C5 was targeted at kids, shoppers, and commuters, and could hit top speeds of 30mph, and needed to be charged every 70 miles. Needless to say – the C5 was a complete disaster and the company had to file for bankruptcy shortly after the release. This was despite tons of press around the world’s first e-car and the success of the Sinclair brand.


Space Riders

The remaining C5 stock was bought up from the liquidator by a young entrepreneur who had other ideas for the e-car. The product was then rebranded as the ‘Space Rider’ and distributed to bike and scooter rental shops in Spain. The stock was sold for twice the purchase price as a low investment & high-income product for the many holiday bike rental companies across Spain.


The Importance of Positioning

The C5 was always a cool product but it was aimed at a target audience who were simply not interested. By targeting the C5 at young holidaymakers and distributing it via bike rental companies as a low priced alternative to a bike, there was no competition. The product existed in a class of its own as it always should have done.


The takeaway here is that you could have a great product or service, but if you choose the wrong audience your marketing efforts will be doomed to failure. Identify your target audience, position your product to meet their needs (fun in this instance), and allow the strategy to drive the tactics you use to get the message out.


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