As early as 2016, Volvo made a very determined pledge to the world. It had promised that by 2020 “nobody should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo car”. It is now nearly halfway through the year 2020, and Volvo is still sticking to that promise. Last year, Volvo Cars announced that in order to keep to that promise, it will introduce some form of limitation to the top speed of their new cars. Now, every new Volvo car comes with a limited top speed of 180 km/h, a limitation that goes beyond regulation and legislation to help close the remaining gap to zero serious injuries and fatalities in traffic.
Besides applying the speed cap, every new Volvo car also comes with a Care Key. The Care Key allows Volvo drivers to set additional limitations on the car’s top speed, e.g. before lending their car to other family members or to younger and inexperienced drivers. With this combination of Care Key and 180 km/h speed limitation, Volvo Cars hopes to reinforce its position as a leader in automotive safety.
“We believe that a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety,” said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “Our speed limiting technology, and the dialogue that it initiated, fits that thinking. The speed cap and Care Key help people reflect and realise that speeding is dangerous, while also providing extra peace of mind and supporting better driver behaviour.”
No doubt the top speed cap has stirred some controversy since it was announced, with some observers questioning the rights of car makers to impose such limitations through available technology. But Volvo Cars believes it has an obligation to continue its tradition of being a pioneer in the discussion around the rights and obligations of car makers to take action that can ultimately save lives, even if this means losing potential customers.
The issue that Volvo Cars has with speeding is that when driving above certain speeds, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design are no longer enough to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident. This is counter to the pledge by Volvo Cars in eliminating fatalities in its cars.
Not everyone knows how to drive fast properly, or adjust their speed to adapt to the road or traffic conditions, hence the accident statistics. Research shows that on average, people have poor understanding of the risks at speed.