Every new Volvo now has a limited top speed of 112 mph.
As part of its ongoing mission to improve car safety, Volvo announced last month that the top speed of every new 2021 model it builds will be restricted to 112 mph. Even the Polestar-tuned Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered will be limited. It's part of the Swedish automaker's strategy to reduce the number of occupants killed or seriously injured in a Volvo down to zero in 2020. However, 112 mph still exceeds the legal speed limit in the US by a significant margin, so it remains to be seen how effective these measures will be.
Even Volvo seems to admit a flaw in the logic.
"112 mph is still fast, so is it going to be the end of speeding? No, it's not," Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Center, admitted to Autocar.
Ultimately, limiting the car's speed at over 100 miles per hour may not be the point, however.
"It's a limitation, and there really is no reason to go faster than 112 mph. Everyone talks about speeding, but we wanted to do something to show we're serious. That will initiate an in-depth dialogue on the subject."
Volvo already has a stellar reputation for safety, having introduced the three-point seatbelt and set new standards for structural safety and crash-prevention systems. As a result, most customers buy a Volvo because of the automaker's reputation for safety, not performance. These limitations have been controversial, however, as Ekholm acknowledged that there needs to be a balance between safety and the freedom to move.
"How do we balance the freedom to move with safety, what does the road map look like and how do we include the skeptics? The speed cap is the first step to looking into what is safe speed - and how do we help you maintain it?"
Depending on the vehicle, a "safe speed" could mean anything. Especially when comparing old cars to new ones.
"Twenty years ago, it wasn't necessarily fun to drive fast, because it wasn't comfortable. Now cars are fantastic and behave the same at any speed, so how can we translate the old signals you got that you were going very fast into a modern context?"
In addition to the top speed restriction, Volvo is also introducing a Care Key that allows owners to set the top speed limit even lower for less experienced drivers. A driver monitoring system is also being developed that can detect if the driver is tired or drunk.