Designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK, Firefly is the brainchild of Young Driver Motor Cars Limited, a division of Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons. While Young Driver already offers lessons for youngsters aged 10 – 17 it became clear that there was currently nothing suitable for those aged under 10 to drive. When searches revealed there were only ‘toys’ available, typically for under fives, Young Driver recruited a team of UK automotive experts with the mission to design and manufacture a properly engineered small electric car.
The first two-seater Firefly cars were revealed in pre-production prototype form in April at the Gadget Show Live, when over 1,000 youngsters put the four prototypes through their paces. Since then, the company has continued to develop, test and refine Firefly, working with leading designers and tier one UK automotive suppliers to create the finished product which handles and drives like a full-sized car.
The Firefly technical spec includes hydraulic disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, independent suspension, an electronic tablet based dashboard and an eye catching body styled by veteran car designer, Chris Johnson. Chris has over 30 years’ experience in automotive design working for manufacturers including Rover, Jaguar, Ford and Volvo.
Firefly is powered by a state of the art electric drive train featuring twin electric motors enabling a top speed restricted to 10mph. The car can, however, be set to a Junior or Experienced mode. An innovative (patent pending) and optional safety system uses sensors to detect obstacles in time to bring the car to a halt when it is operating in the Junior mode, which also limits speed to 5mph. Working in forward or reverse modes, this is supplemented by a remote control switch which enables adults to stop the car from up to 120 metres away in case of an emergency. The automatic sensors and 5mph speed limit are deactivated in the Experienced mode, but the remote control is still operational.
The driver’s seat can be adjusted, allowing most youngsters aged from five to 10 to reach the pedals. An adult of up to 6ft can also drive, or be a passenger within the vehicle.
Firefly’s features include:
- Independent suspension
- Top speed of 10 mph
- Adjustable driver’s seat
- Fixed passenger seat
- Hydraulic disc brakes, accelerator and forward/reverse control
- Indicators and side repeaters
- LED headlights and tail lights
- Twin electric motors with up to 9-hour continual operation capability
- Twin 12v batteries with 240v charger
- Tablet based instruments including speedometer, clock and power reserve indicator
- Lockable Junior and Experienced mode options with Junior mode restricted to speed of 5mph
- Unique and patented safety system that brings the car to a halt before collision (in reverse or forward drive) whilst in Junior mode
- The ability to stop the car by remote control from 120 metres
- CE certification in progress
- Range of options and accessories including bespoke paint colours and combinations, individual badging and instruments, upholstered leather seats and steering wheel, wireless tyre pressure indicators and in-car audio
- GRP or carbon fibre body
Whilst the product was initially developed for use by Young Driver, it will also be available for purchase worldwide by members of the general public from 2017 with a price tag in the region of £5,750 + VAT.
Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver, said: “We are delighted to be officially launching Young Driver Motor Car’s first electric car aimed at five to 10 year olds - Firefly. It has taken over 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. We were surprised that nothing existed for this age range other than plastic toys, and it felt like we had to take up the challenge and run with it! Firefly is something very special, it’s a real car in its own right, designed, engineered and manufactured in the Midlands, Great Britain – home of the car industry. We know that youngsters will enjoy driving it and that through this they will learn about road safety, finding out about the basics of driving and gaining a better understanding of how it feels to be behind the wheel. That can only be of benefit when it comes to them being pedestrians, cyclists and future motorists out there on the roads.”
For more information about Young Driver and Firefly visit www.youngdrivermotorcars.com