Why car companies are coming out with toy cars

By dpa | 23 January 2022

BERLIN: It’s red, small and, at just under 40 euros, is one of the cheapest “new cars” you can buy: the Bobby Car.

It’s a plastic toy car designed for toddlers to sit on and push along with their legs, and it's one of the best-known of its kind around the world.

Toy companies have been making them for decades and these toys not only promote the motor skills of kids but maybe perhaps combat the dwindling enthusiasm for cars that researchers have discovered among the young.


Audi TT or AMG GT for the little ones

It’s no accident that almost every vehicle manufacturer now has a licensed version of a toy car in its range of accessories. In that sense, car marketing begins already in kids’ playrooms.

Miniature Porsche 911s, VW Beetles and Tiguans, Audi TTs, and Mercedes-AMG GTs — all are intended to promote auto mobility and the fun of cars.

For kids old enough to walk, the car manufacturers offers pedal cars. And beyond the bobby and pedal cars, there are numerous electric cars for older children.

The Little Car Company in the UK sees itself more as a toy manufacturer than a car manufacturer, even though its vehicles, which are built to 75 per cent scale, can be driven by teenagers.

The cheapest start at around 35,000 euros, more expensive than many full-size cars, while the top-end models can cost six-figures.

The company invests a lot of time and effort in development and testing — prototypes cover more than 5,000km and many of the parts come from the same suppliers as the genuine cars use.

Currently, there are three models — the Ferrari Testa Rossa, the Bugatti Baby and the Aston Martin DB5.

All bear the blessing of the respective manufacturer and share paint colours, leather interiors, and some of the same parts as the originals.


Hand-made, fast, expensive

The cars are hand-built in the company’s factory in Bichester and consist of an aluminium body built on a lattice tube frame.

Powered by an electric motor, they have a range of around 30km, a very tight chassis, and surprisingly direct steering.

As the cars are electrically powered and very lightweight, the torque is almost explosive. They can be unlocked for full power, which means a top speed of up to 100kph.

It’s just as well they’re not allowed on public roads as the temptation to take a spin in real life might be too great.

The UK has several miniature car-makers offering similar models at a cheaper price.

For example, Harrington builds more than a dozen classic vehicles as half size junior cars, including a Formula 1 car from the 1960s, a Porsche 356, a Mercedes 300 SL, and a Land Rover Defender.

With prices starting at just under 10,000 euros, these are still pretty expensive toys.

In addition to a 20kph electric drive, there are also 7-horsepower internal combustion engines available that combined with a semi-automatic three-speed transmission can accelerate the mini sports cars to almost 70kph.

But these little speedsters are of course an absolutely no-go for public roads. As the manufacturer warns, "these are toys that you shouldn't leave private grounds with."