Swedish brand puts an end to excessively high top speeds.
For most gearheads, a visit to Germany is less about visiting famous sites like the Cologne Cathedral and Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, and much more about hiring the fastest car you can afford to blast along unrestricted sections of the Autobahn. It's the perfect playground for powerhouses like the Mercedes-AMG S63 and the Bentley Continental GT.
Volvo has other ideas, though. The Swedish automaker has announced that all of its vehicles will now leave the factory with a top speed limited to just 112 mph, making good on the promise it made last year. Known for building extremely safe vehicles like the Volvo XC60 - a recipient of the Top Safety Pick award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - Volvo's latest move was made to work towards a goal of zero fatal injuries in a car.
While a 112-mph top speed may be a psychological blow to a customer who has just dropped over $70,000 on a range-topping XC90, it's still far above the legal maximum in the US. A stretch of highway in Texas carries a maximum speed limit in the country of 85 mph, so you'll still theoretically be able to bag yourself a speeding ticket in a new Volvo. The manufacturer also announced that all cars will come with what's called a Care Key, which also aims to reduce serious accidents caused by speeding.
The Care Key allows owners to set their own speed limits, which can be used when allowing your son or daughter to drive your car, for instance. "We believe that a carmaker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety," explained Malin Ekholm, who heads up the Volvo Cars Safety Center. "The speed cap and Care Key help people reflect and realize that speeding is dangerous."
Volvo makes the point that even the most effective safety features and crash structures are rendered ineffective at excessive speeds. The automaker also says that too many drivers still drive too quickly based on the traffic situation, a claim that few would argue with. Intoxication and distraction have been identified as two more crucial areas that require focus if a future of "zero traffic fatalities" is to become a reality.
It will be interesting to see if customers in regions like Germany will turn to other brands in light of Volvo's new limit. We also think it will be a while before the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz move away from their vehicles' 155-mph limited top speed. Koenigsegg, another Swedish manufacturer, probably won't be following in its neighbor's footsteps anytime soon.
What we'd love to see in time is whether Volvo can provide irrefutable data that the new limit has reduced the rate of severe injuries or even fatalities. If this happens, it will be hard to dispute a decision that ultimately saves lives.