Volvo begins 112mph speed cap rollout 22 | 05 | 2020

    CAST YOUR MIND back some time, and deep in  your memory you may remember the headlines stating Volvo was planning to limit the top speed of its cars to 112mph. Well, that plan is now reality. The Swedish carmaker, renowned for its approach to safety, has begun to implement its plan.  (Related: Volvo to impose 122mph speed limit)

    The speed cap is now being rolled across its whole range as new model year updates are introduced. Previously, top speeds ranged from 118mph to 155mph.

    Interestingly, Volvo says the initiative isn’t just about establishing a new maximum speed and restricting owners, but helping them to be "the best drivers they can possibly be. And it’s certainly not surprising that the company also says new speed cap is designed to spark discussion. I suspect it’ll definitely do that. (Related: Roadtest — Volvo XC40)

    Oh, and as well as the speed cap, every Volvo car will now also come with a Care Key, which allows Volvo drivers to set additional limitations on the car’s top speed — of between 31mph and 112mph — for example before lending their car to other family members or to younger and inexperienced drivers.


    Isn’t the EU also planning something on speeding?

    Yes, it is. But Volvo’s speed cap comes ahead of EU plans for mandatory devices in cars to alert drivers when they break the speed limit, by introducing Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) incrementally from 2022.

    ISA is a system which informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the statutory local speed limit. The in-vehicle speed limit is set automatically as a function of the speed limits indicated on the road. GPS allied to digital speed limit maps allows ISA technology to continuously update the vehicle speed limit to the road speed limit. (Related: Roadtest — Volvo S60 T5 R-Design)


    Is this aimed at making us all better drivers?

    Certainly according to Volvo. It believes the two features it’s introducing illustrate how car makers can take active responsibility for striving to achieve zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driver behaviour.

    Of course, it’s worth stating that the 112mph cap still exceeds the maximum speed regulations in virtually every country. But despite that, the company’s top speed limit has proven to be controversial since it was announced in March 2019. Indeed, some observers continue to question the rights of car makers to impose such limitations through available technology.


    Does Volvo have any other reasons for the change?

    It does. Volvo has taken the view that the problem with speeding is that above certain speeds, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design are no longer enough to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident.

    This is why speed limits are in place in most western countries, yet speeding remains ubiquitous and one of the most common reasons for fatalities in traffic. Millions of people still get speeding tickets every year.

    “We believe a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety,” Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, said. “Our speed limiting technology, and the dialogue that it initiated, fits that thinking. The speed cap and Care Key help people reflect and realise that speeding is dangerous, while also providing extra peace of mind and supporting better driver behaviour.”


    Could this impact on new car sales?

    It could, but Volvo clearly believes it has an obligation to continue its tradition of being a pioneer in the discussion around the rights and obligations of carmakers to take action that can ultimately save lives, even if this means losing potential customers.

    Research shows that on average, people have poor understanding of the dangers around speeding. As a result, many people often drive too fast and have poor speed adaption in relation to the traffic situation.

    And this isn’t the end of Volvo’s safety campaigning. It’s also looking at the issues of driver intoxication and distraction, which it plans to address by installing driver monitoring systems in the near future, as it drives towards a future with zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.


    Related: Volvo offers free electricity

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    Jim McGill


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