Toy Electric Cars Let Kids Zoom Around While Parents Take Control From Afar

There are a few reasons why parents might choose not to buy their kids a go-kart, thus dashing the child’s dreams of roaming the neighborhood at high speed, unfettered by the wishes of pesky adults: it’s a pricey toy, and parents don’t necessarily want to give their kids something they could potentially drive into traffic or somewhere else unsafe. A few things have changed since I last wished for my own set of wheels, as I saw at the North American International Toy Fair in New York City this week, while others have remained pretty much the same.

Buying a go-kart or even a set of Power Wheels is a pretty big deal for many parents, as motorized vehicles for children can still cost a pretty penny, even in miniature. That much is true today, which I learned when the Arrow Smart-Kart made by Actev Motors caught my eye as a girl whipped it around a mini track at the convention center, a big ol’ grin on her face.

The electric mini car is targeted toward kids ages five to nine, and has a base price of $599, which can go up to $699 if a customer chooses a red or silver body kit instead of the standard black. It’s a not insignificant price tag — one that can go up easily if you choose from accessories like custom body kits, special driving cones, and “drifting wheel rings.” Yes, your child can drift.

But one big thing has changed from the days when parents might’ve worried that their kid could take that set of wheels into unsafe territory: the Arrow has its own onboard WiFi, which connects to an app on parents’ smartphones. From that app, parents can set the car’s maximum speed, which can go as high as 12 mph.

To prevent wayward drivers, parents can designate geo-fences to define the area the car must stick to. If the vehicle approaches that boundary, it won’t cross, and will instead shut off. Parents can also use an emergency stop button on the app to immediately halt the car. To prevent collisions, say, with a particularly annoying older sibling who is just begging to get his foot run over, there are also sensors on the vehicle that detect obstacles.

Each driver can have a profile as well, so that once their driving skills improve, parents can change their speed options. Which just means more practice time, something I would’ve given my entire collection of New Kids on the Block paraphernalia to have.

Something else has definitely changed: because the electric vehicles don’t make the sound of a traditional go-kart and its gas-powered engine, the Actev App also allows kids to download synthesized engine noises they can play while driving.

The Arrow Smart-Kart is available for pre-orders now, and is expected to ship in early Summer 2016, the company says.