Driving Education EVs

First all-British EV aims to save lives and engage next generation of drivers

Young Driver Motor Cars’ all-British and all-electric Firefly Sport will fuel children’s interest in cars and driving from an early age, while educating them about road safety and how future motor vehicles can be an environmental force for good. Packed full of British innovation, the Firefly Sport will receive its official debut at this week’s British Motor Show, which opens on August 18th.

A sister company to Young Driver – the world’s largest under-17s driving school – Young Driver Motor Cars will start production of the Firefly Sport model this month. The 2.1 metre-long car, which can accommodate children aged 4- to 10-years-old (and even adult drivers) will use only UK-sourced components for series-build cars – including their batteries and electric motors – making the Firefly Sport the country’s first all-British EV.

Pooling expertise from around the UK’s motor industry, YDMC’s Firefly Sport is built on a state-of-the-art aluminium chassis with all-round independent suspension and rack and pinion steering, offering young drivers an authentic taste of how a road car looks, handles and performs.

And it should do, too. Steve Rawson, formerly of Aston Martin, has been responsible for Firefly Sport’s production engineering, while ex-JLR and MG engineer, Dr. Ian Pogson, developed its highly adaptable powertrain. And Firefly Sport’s rakish and exotic-looking body was the work of tier-one automotive agency, Puremedium design, based on a detailed brief by YDMC, and delivered in a remarkable six-month time-frame.

Firefly Sport uses two, class-leading, cleverly packaged and recyclable 12-volt batteries from a Bromsgrove-based supplier, powering twin 24-volt electric motors which are manufactured in Bournemouth. Maximum speeds will vary depending on the gearbox specified, but will range from 25mph, down to 7mph for the youngest drivers. However, Firefly Sport also has a remote cut-off facility with a 200-metre range, as well as an automatic cut-off if it senses obstacles in its path, making it ultra-safe for first-time drivers.

Inside the open-topped two seater (a roof is optional for all-weather use) drivers are presented with a digital instrument pack that can be personalised on start-up with the user’s name and photograph. There are three instruments – a speedometer, clock and range indicator – as well as a reversing camera and pilot lights for indicators, headlights/tail lights, etc.

Firefly Sport is a fully-fledged, scaled-down motor car,” said Ian Mulingani, YDMC’s managing director. “From its launch this month it will allow 4- to 10-year-olds the chance to get behind the wheel and have an authentic motoring experience, thanks to this model’s sophisticated design and componentry, which fundamentally mirror the way a road car behaves, but at fully manageable speeds. Being electric and looking like a junior supercar, it also aligns with the type of vehicle that children see themselves driving when they pass their test. And it’s precisely this kind of engagement we need at our Young Driver training centres to start them on a journey towards improved road safety – and ultimately, preventing unnecessary road deaths.

But we’re also proud that Firefly Sport will be this country’s first all-British electric vehicle, when you take into account not only where it’s manufactured, and the team responsible for its creation, but also that its components are sourced from here, too. The body comes from Huddersfield, the chassis is from Coventry, and the motors and batteries are from suppliers in Bournemouth and Bromsgrove. If you think about how the UK’s motor industry is moving towards greater autonomy with parts-sourcing, we’re definitely ahead of the curve!

And while Firefly Sport will be available for 4- to 10-year-old drivers at 45 of Young Driver’s training centres across the UK (£20 for a 15-minute test drive), it can also be purchased outright by families who have sufficient space for children to drive the car on private land. Pricing will be announced at the British Motor Show on August 18th, and the car can be specified in a wide range of colours, with plenty of options to choose from. The car is ultra-green, and can be re-charged using solar power, and its battery’s cells are bolted in, making them easy to remove and recycle.

While Firefly Sport production will initially be focused on the young drivers’ model, YDMC has plans to develop the range to include variants suitable for adult use, in a range of different applications. More news about these exciting projects will follow in the near future.

YDMC will be holding a press conference at this week’s British Motor Show to introduce Firefly Sport at 13.30 on Thursday, August 18th in Hall 2, BMS’s main EV area. Further information about BMS can be found at: https://thebritishmotorshow.live/press/

Young drivers wishing to book an early test drive in Firefly Sport should go to: www.youngdriver.com

The Young Driver Motor Cars team – Who’s Who?
Ian Mulingani - MD, Young Driver Motor Cars

Ian cut his teeth in sales and marketing at Rover Cars, before moving to Land Rover, where he established driving experiences around the world. These would later became a key part of the highly-regarded Land Rover Experience programme. In 1998, he co-founded an agency which has delivered over £140m of driving experience programmes for brands including Bugatti, Bentley, JLR, BMW and many more. In 2010, Ian established Young Driver to enable under-17s to take lessons before they held a licence. To date, 1.1m youngsters have been through the Young Driver programme, which is proven to reduce accidents by 75%.

Design team

YDMC commissioned tier-one automotive agency Puremedium Design to create the Firefly Sport’s rakish and distinctive shape. Puremedium’s director, Thomas Ashton, led a team based at the National Transport Design Centre, all of whom were alumni from Coventry University’s renowned Transport Design Course. Employing pioneering processes in automotive design, the project was delivered to YDMC within six months.

Steve Rawson – Chief Engineer

Steve led Firefly Sport’s engineering team during the development of the car’s suspension systems, aluminium chassis and electric powertrain. A motor industry veteran, Rawson established Aston Martin’s body-in-white prototype facility at Gaydon, and worked on the DB9, DBS, Vantage and Rapide programmes. After taking on senior engineering roles at Bombadier and LTI (London Taxis International), he became Operations Director for CadCam Automotive, working on Jaguar’s Project 7 and Project 8 cars, as well as prototype body-in-whites for other JLR products, and Polestar.

Dr. Ian Pogson CEng FIET – Electrical Engineer

Starting his career in 1980 as a manufacturing graduate with Land Rover, Dr. Ian Pogson went on to project-manage the creation of BMW’s Hams Hall engine plant, as well as localising the manufacturing of Rover’s K-series engine in Shanghai. He was then responsible for a series of key manufacturing engineering projects in the industry, including the MG RV8, MG TF, MG3 (EU6 version) and Range Rover P38a’s front and rear axles. His last job was working for JLR as Company Expert for Electrical Grounds and Earths.

Paul Adams – Electrical Engineer

Like Ian Pogson, Paul Adams has enjoyed a 40-year career in the car industry. During that time, he has designed the wiring harnesses for the MG3, MG6, MG TF, Rover 75 and MG ZT. More recently, Adams worked for JLR developing electrical standards and specifications across all car and 4x4 product lines. For Firefly Sport, Adams has designed, specified and prototyped the car’s wiring harness and established the integrity of its 24-volt powertrain, and 12-volt electrical systems.

About Young Driver

Young Driver was established in 2009 with the aim of teaching youngsters to drive over a longer period, therefore encouraging a safer generation of new drivers when they turned 17. Not only is the Young Driver programme the largest of its kind in the world. But the scheme is the only driving school in the UK to offer carbon negative driving lessons. 
 
As well as children aged 4- to 10-years-old being able to drive the all-new Firefly Sport at selected Young Driver venues, anyone aged 10 and over and above 1.42 metres tall can get behind the wheel of a dual controlled Vauxhall Corsa (or similar) with a fully qualified ADI driving instructor. Lessons take place on private property, which has been developed into a realistic road system complete with road signs, junctions and car parks. A Drive Diary helps each pupil to monitor progress. More than one million lessons have now been delivered and there are more than 70 venues to choose from across the UK.
 
All Drive Diaries and leaflets are printed on carbon-capture paper and Young Driver’s office only uses Woodland Trust FSC paper. The Drive Diary is also available on the Young Driver app.
  
Driving experiences for 10-17s (and adults) are also available in three classic cars: a Vauxhall VX4/90, Morris Minor or Austin 7, along with a genuine ex-service fire engine and a Bentley Flying Spur. 

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