Volvo Is Electronically Limiting the Top Speed of All Its Cars

The automaker followed through with its controversial safety feature

Volvo V90 B6 AWD Cross Country in Thunder Grey
No matter what new Volvo you buy, they'll all be capped at 112 MPH.
Volvo
By Alex Lauer / May 21, 2020 7:30 am

Everyone wants to drive in a safe vehicle. If a car has received any safety awards, say from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or J.D. Power, you can bet those will be touted in the TV commercial. So last year when Volvo announced one of the most significant safety improvements in the automotive industry across its entire lineup, why was it so controversial?

Because the safety measure, which Volvo officially instituted on Wednesday, means using tech to deliberately weaken a car’s top speed.

That’s right, every new car from the brand will have an electronically limited top speed of 112 MPH. It doesn’t matter what model, engine or horsepower you’ve got, if you buy a new Volvo going forward, it will be designed not to exceed that mile-per-hour mark. 

In a press release, Volvo made clear that this technology “goes beyond regulation and legislation to help close the remaining gap to zero serious injuries and fatalities in traffic.” While not citing any specific countries or initiatives, the auto brand is putting itself at the center of conversations around speed limits and driving deaths taking place around the globe, including Germany’s recent debates around the Autobahn. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 9,378 speeding-related deaths in the U.S. in 2018, which amounts to more than one every single hour.

Of course, no one needs a lecture on the horrors of traffic deaths. But the idea of deliberately limiting the speed limit of cars has irked certain pockets of the driving public. Before you join their ranks, consider this: the Ford F-150, the go-to vehicle for Gadsden flag fliers (probably), has featured an electronic speed limiter for a while, including in the high-performance Raptor. And when’s the last time you went above 112 MPH, anyway? For what it’s worth, most of the best-selling cars in the U.S. only have top speeds 10 to 30 MPH above that.

“We believe that a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety,” Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, said in the press release. “Our speed limiting technology, and the dialogue that it initiated, fits that thinking.”

If, however, you are on the other side of this debate, wishing the top speed was under 112 MPH, you’re in luck. Volvo is simultaneously introducing something called the Care Key, which will allow owners to set even lower top-speed limits.

If you’re a parent in Georgia, this could come in handy.

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