Firefly puts 5-year-olds in the driver's seat
Earlier this year, UK-based Young Driver announced a prototype of an all-electric, two-seater car designed specifically to teach kids ages 5 to 10 how to drive. The company recently unveiled its production model of that prototype, the Firefly, featuring many of the same features found on a typical car for adults.
With hydraulic disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, working headlights and turn signals, and an independent suspension, Young Driver says the Firefly drives like a full-size car and should not be considered a toy.
What makes this unlike a real car, however, is its small size and very limited power; understandable considering its intended driver. Twin electric motors have a restricted top speed of 10 mph (16 km/h) in "Experienced" mode. But that gets limited to 5 mph when the Firefly is placed in "Junior" mode.
The two motors are powered by twin 12v batteries that can run continuously for up to nine hours before recharging. A tablet-based dash indicates speed, time and power reserves.
An optional safety system when operated in Junior mode uses a set of sensors to detect obstacles and stop the car before it hits them, whether the driver is in forward or reverse. That system is deactivated in Experienced mode.
Anxious parents will be able to supplement the Firefly with a remote kill switch that will stop the car from up to 120 m (394 ft) away, regardless of what mode the car is in.
Taking the full car experience even further, Young Driver is offering a few options including different paint colors, individual badging and instruments, upholstered leather seats and steering wheel, wireless tire pressure indicators and an audio system.
Young Driver said it had up to 1,000 young drivers put four prototypes of the Firefly through testing before it proceeded to create the production version. The company will utilize the small car in its driving program at selected venues in the UK starting this fall with the price of a 20-minute lesson (including a 5-minute briefing ) set at £19.95.
In 2017, parents throughout the world interested in buying a Firefly for their budding young drivers will be able to purchase one for an estimated £5,750.
Contact: Young Driver