Things are changing in the automotive world. The electric revolution is upon us, but with self-driving cars still some way off, knowing how to drive is still going to be a useful skill for many years to come. Starting the kids early with a ride-on electric car could be seen as a useful investment in their future, but really, who are we kidding? Ride-on cars are plain and simple fun regardless of whether a youngster is an aspiring petrolhead or whether they just like zooming around the yard. They’re often at the top of kids’ letters to Santa and there’s a lot of choice on the market. But which electric ride-on cars are the best?
Kids and oldies alike love Lamborghinis for their exuberant styling and flashy colours, so this officially licenced model is likely to have considerable appeal. As a two-seater, it’s suitable for two small children or one bigger one and can be propelled using a gearstick and pedal. It uses twin 35W motors driving the rear wheels for better performance on rougher surfaces and features working “scissor” doors just like a big Lambo. The car can be remotely controlled using a radio remote at a distance of up to 20m so parents can make sure that their kids don’t go where they shouldn’t. While the car makes its own artificial sounds, there’s a socket for an MP3 player meaning that music can be played on the move, too. Unless, of course, parents can find a recording of a screaming 6.5-litre V12 engine — that’ll really add to the realism.
Price: €299 from rideoncars.ie
This Mercedes-AMG GT is equally likely to cement a child’s love of the three-pointed star. With similar specs and seating to the Aventador, including a similar motor set-up and the same parental remote-control arrangement, the Mercedes is, perhaps, a slightly more subtle proposition than the Lamborghini while delivering all of the same thrills including a blistering 7km/h maximum speed and an hour between battery charges depending on usage.
Price: €229.95 from kidselectriccars.ie
What better way to inspire a love of outdoor adventure than with a youngster’s very first 4x4? This model isn’t inspired by any specific car — there are bits of old Jeeps in there, certainly and perhaps a touch of old Land Cruiser — but the Raptor has all the looks of a tough off-roader including (non-functional) rollover bars, bull bars and working lights. Performance is on a par with the Lamborghini and Mercedes with the same powertrain. Charging the battery takes around ten hours and delivers about an hour of running time. Like the other models, it’s suitable for children up to 45kg.
Price: €249.95 from kidselectriccars.ie
All kids love old Beetles and that’s a fact. Whether they’ve even heard of Herbie, the cute round looks are immediately appealing and here’s the chance for 3–6-year-olds (or younger with full supervision) to get behind a wheel of their own. Specs are a little different to the other models on the list. For example, the one-seater is only suitable for those up to 30kg and it takes up to 14 hours to charge, but it still uses a pair of 35W motors to deliver a top speed of 5km/h for use on firm, flat surfaces and flat lawns. The model makes its own horn and turn sounds and can be controlled remotely at up to 20m.
Price: €199.99 from rideoncars.ie
Scaled Rigs Scania
At up to €4,500, Scaled Rigs trucks are incredibly expensive, but it’s a case of getting what you pay for as these beautifully rendered ride-on trucks are carefully engineered in Lecarrow, Co. Roscommon and represent scaled-down versions of real-life lorries. They’re still pretty big for ride-on toys though, and the specs give some clue as to the quality of the engineering. The chassis and axles are made from stainless steel; the battery is a 24V unit with a chain-driven transmission; it features strong pneumatic tyres and a fifth wheel for coupling and decoupling trailers; the lights are functional, and the cab is made of sturdy moulded plastic. Accompanying its 6km/h top speed is the realistic sound of a Scania V8 engine. Kids stand behind the cab with their heads peeping over the top. Again, it may be eye-wateringly expensive, but Scaled Rigs’ trucks are a quality, Irish-made product, built to last, and are perfect for dedicated little truckers (five years old and above), especially those that want a smaller version of their Mam or Dad’s lorry.
Price: c. €4,500 from scaled-rigs.com