Volvo's plan to keep drivers safe:
Limiting the top speed of its cars
By Peter Holley Washington Post MARCH 7, 2019 — 12:57PM
For as long as there have been cars on American roads, the decision to obey speed limits — or recklessly push a vehicle to the edge of its performance — typically has been left to drivers.
Now one major auto manufacturer is reclaiming some of that control. Volvo, the Chinese-owned Swedish automotive brand known for its emphasis on safety, has plans to cap the top speed on its new cars. Beginning in 2020, the company said, Volvo cars will be limited to 112 miles per hour, one step in improving safety features.
"Because of our research we know where the problem areas are when it comes to ending serious injuries and fatalities in our cars," said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo's president and CEO. "And while a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it's worth doing if we can even save one life."
Speed limiters, devices that limit a vehicle's speed, are used on some trucks and buses, but are not common among private vehicles. Ford has introduced technology that allows parents to restrict the speed of cars driven by teenagers.
Though Volvo's brand is closely associated with practical performance, high safety standards and suburban families, the company's S90 sedans and V90 hatchbacks can break 150 miles per hour, according to the manufacturer's specs.
Jessica Caldwell, the director of industry analysis with the auto research website Edmunds.com, said Volvo's decision to limit its vehicle's speed is part of a broader industry trend toward improving vehicle safety by removing human decision-making from the driving experience as vehicles become increasingly autonomous. Other examples of this shift, she said, are lane-assistant warnings, radar and cameras that help drivers account for blind spots or that automatically reduce speed when a vehicle is approaching an obstruction.
Because Volvo owners typically live in congested urban areas where speeds rarely top 50 mph, Caldwell said, most drivers probably will remain unaffected by the company's new speed cap.
"We're not talking about limiting the speed of an exotic car like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, where track driving might be something that an owner would want to do," she said.