Swedish firm says new speed cap is designed to spark discussion, help owners become better drivers
Volvo has begun the introduction of a 180km/h speed cap for all its cars, with the head of the firm’s Safety Centre saying the move is not about limiting owners, but helping them to be “the best drivers they can possibly be’.
The Swedish firm announced the limit last year, as part of a wider safety plan to help reduce road traffic deaths to zero. The speed cap is now being rolled across its whole range as new model year updates are introduced. Previously, top speeds ranged from 190km/h to 250km/h.
All Volvo vehicles will also feature a new Care Key, which will allow owners to set additional limits on the top speed of vehicles, of between 50km/h and 180km/h. It will also allow owners who lend their car to family members to prevent them from going above a certain speed.
“We believe that a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety,” said Malin Ekholm, who heads the Volvo Cars Safety Centre.
The 180km/h cap still exceeds regulations in virtually every country, but Ekholm said it was intended to serve to both limit speeds and to promote a discussion on safety. “We decided there really is no reason to go faster than 180km/h” Ekholm told Automotive Daily’s exclusive partner Autocar. “180km/h is still fast, so is that going to be the end of speeding? No, it’s not, but it’s still a limitation. Everyone talks about speed and speeding, and we wanted to do something to show that we’re serious.”
Ekholm said that, since it was announced, the reaction of Volvo customers to the speed cap had largely been “very supportive”. She added: “I’m happy the majority of people have been positive in saying we’re doing something by talking about the issue and taking action.
“There are always sceptics, because the challenge with human behavioural aspects is that the issue of speed is connected to how our brains are programmed. We’re not programmed to comprehend speed at a high level, so how can we do that in a nice way? How do we balance the freedom to move with safety? The speed cap is the first step in looking into what is safe speed – and how do we help you maintain it?
“As a car manufacturer we want to bring to the table the tool box that we have, which includes speed caps, and look at how we can make drivers the best that they can be in every single situation. It’s about how we can do that in a way that it’s understood it’s a help and not a Big Brother approach.”
Volvo is also looking at the issues of driver intoxication and distraction, which it plans to address by installing driver monitoring systems in the near future.