- Out of the pram and into the Firefly
- Driving tuition for pre-schoolers
- ‘Mommy, can I drive myself to creche?’
LONDON, England – What is believed to be the first battery-car especially for five- to 10-year-olds has been released. It’s called Firefly and was birthed by a division of Young Driver in the UK.
Young Driver Motor Cars Ltd, part of the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons, already offers private track lessons for youngsters aged 10-17 but there was nothing suitable for those younger than 10 to drive.
, of course, you include karts and the racing thereof… Which of course does not teach road manners, road signs or the legal requirements of being at the wheel.
“When searches revealed there were only ‘toys’ available, typically for under fives,” Young Driver said, “we recruited a team of automotive experts whose mission was to design and manufacture a real, but small, electric car.”
The first two-seater Fireflys were revealed in April 2016 as pre-production units at the Gadget Show Live. More than 1000 youngsters put the four prototypes through their paces and since then the company has continued to develop, test and refine the mini-machines.
The development team worked with leading automotive designers and UK automotive suppliers to create the finished product which, Yount Driver asserts, “handles and drives like a full-sized car”.
DISC BRAKES AND A TABLET FOR INFO
Technical spec includes hydraulic disc-brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, independent suspension, a tablet-based electronic instrument panel and an eye-catching body by veteran car-designer Chris Johnson.
Chris has more than 30 years’ experience in automotive design with Rover, Jaguar, Ford and Volvo.
TWO ELECTRIC MOTORS – AND EMERGENCY STOP
The Firefly has a modern electric drive-train that uses two electric motors to take it to a maximum of close to 20km/h when set for ‘Junior Experienced’. It has a nine-hour capacity.
An (patent pending) optional safety system uses radar (just like Dad’s car!) while in Junior Mode to detect obstacles and stop the car. It can also limit top speed to eight km/h and either can be halted remotely by the instructor from up to 120m away.
The seats can be adjusted to fit most youngsters aged five to 10 to reach the pedals – even an adult up to 1.8m tall to drive or ride as a passenger/instructor.
⦁ The Firefly also copies a road car with forward/reverse gearing
⦁ Indicators and side repeaters
⦁ Diode head and tail lights
⦁ Tablet-based instruments – speedometer, clock and power reserve indicator
⦁ Lockable Junior and Experienced mode options
⦁ Range of options and accessories that includes special paint jobs, individual badging and instruments, upholstered leather seats and steering-wheel, wireless tyre- pressure indicators and in-car audio
The Firefly will, from late 2016, allow Young Driver to give driving instruction to a much younger age-group across the UK. A 20-minute lesson and briefing will be the equivalent of Lessons in the Firefly will be available through Young Driver at selected venues in the UK in Autumn.
The price of a 20 minute lesson (inclusive of a 5 minute briefing period) will be about R370 (£19.95).
Firefly units will from 2017 be available globally to private or other buyers for about R106 000.
Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver, told The Corner in a media release: “We’re delighted to be officially launching Young Driver and the Firefly. It’s taken more than a year to come together and involved the hard work of many talented and experienced people from the UK’s vibrant and successful automotive industry.”
Stanton added: “Nothing existed for this age range other than plastic toys so we had to take up the challenge! Firefly is something very special – a real car in its own right. We know youngsters will enjoy driving it and so learn about road safety, the basics of driving and gain a better understanding of how it feels behind the wheel.
“That can only be of benefit when it comes to them being pedestrians, cyclists and grown-up motorists.”
Maybe some enterprising South African, Carman’s Corner suggests, can take up the challenge and help to make a dent in this country’s appalling road-death toll?
For more information about Young Driver and Firefly, click here.