By on March 4, 2019

In jurisdictions that allow motorists some semblance of freedom (*cough* not future Europe *cough*), speed limiters aren’t a common topic of conversation. But they do exist, and many an American pickup owner has hit the governor while passing motorists in open territory.

Volvo Cars isn’t concerned about your gross vehicle weight rating, tire speed rating, or any of that stuff. In the interest of safety, the automaker plans to introduce a speed ceiling for all of its vehicles, even if it means pissing off Germans.

Speaking to Reuters, Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said that, starting in 2020, his company’s vehicles will back off after hitting 112 mph (180 km/h). This happens to be the same speed my Chevrolet Corsica couldn’t nudge past back in high school.

The automaker’s new speed limit is another plank in its tech-heavy Vision 2020 mandate, which seeks to eliminate deaths and injuries in Volvo vehicles by next year. Volvo’s CEO suggested that all the tech in the world can’t save a passenger if the vehicle is travelling too fast.

“We’ve realized that to close the gap we have to focus more on the human factors,” he said.

Perhaps taking a cue from zealous European lawmakers, the automaker is also exploring speed limiters that would kick in in high-pedestrian areas like school zones. This technology would limit the Volvo’s speed to that of the posted speed limit until it leaves the geo-fenced area.

Before that happens, however, Volvo expects to have cameras spying on its drivers, monitoring their faces for signs of drowsiness (or booziness). Cadillac’s Super Cruise driver-assist features already uses such a system.

When asked whether the new speed limiters would hurt sales in speed-happy Germany, home of the famed Autobahn, Samuelsson seemed unconcerned.

“We cannot please everybody, but we think we will attract new customers,” he said. “I think Volvo customers in Germany will appreciate that we’re doing something about safety.”

[Image: Volvo Cars]

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46 Comments on “Call the Governor: Volvo to Tamp Down Its Top Speed...”


  • avatar
    Heino

    But what if I am being chased by bad guys driving a Charger in San Francisco?
    Now we have to worry about big government and big business.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a fundamental difference… you as a consumer can choose to not buy the Volvo. With government, regardless of how you vote, the majority may stamp down your options anyhow… Plus you should be doing that in a Mustang anyhow.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “With government, regardless of how you vote, the majority may stamp down your options anyhow…”

        That’s why the idea of majority rule must necessarily be coupled to the idea of minority rights.

        I can provide endless examples of cases where the majority has ignored the rights of the minority at their own peril, if needed.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    “The automaker’s new speed limit is another plank in its tech-heavy Vision 2020 mandate, which seeks to eliminate deaths and injuries in Volvo vehicles by next year.”

    “The automaker is also exploring speed limiters that would kick in in high-pedestrian areas like school zones. This technology would limit the Volvo’s speed to that of the posted speed limit until it leaves the geo-fenced area.”

    These two goals don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. My car shouldn’t be looking out for or listening to anyone but me when I’m driving it. And I try not be be a tin-foil hat type of guy, but this really seems like a dangerous slippery slope to get started down.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Please tell Michelin to stop production of H, V, W and Y tires in Volvo sizes.

  • avatar
    ajla

    This is a loaded term and I kind of hate to using it, but this seems like “virtue signaling” of the highest order.

    How many fatal accidents occur as a result of people travelling over 112mph? How less dead am I if crash my S60 into an oak tree at 112 versus 130?

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      @ajla: Could not have said it better myself.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Likewise how many people are actually traveling at these speeds for any extended period of time? A simple warning chime would be enough to alert you. Because what I’ve noticed is most people that have gone over 100 were actually taken by surprise when it happened. Its not like you are purposely setting the cruise control to 120 mph for example. Of course some folks go that fast just to see what its like, but they are super careful about it.

      Does not effect me at all as my next car is not going to be a Volvo anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Right. And many cars, particularly European ones, include a speed-threshold warning function. You can set it to chime and warn you when you reach or exceed a specific speed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m not surprised to see a governor kick in at 112/mph, in fact I’d question has the amount of speed even changed or is simply getting press now and its always been 112/mph?

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        They’re talking about governing cars sold in Germany to speeds that don’t relate to tire capabilities. That’s why its news. Historically, Germans bought the fastest cars they could afford to use. The offering of a relatively expensive car like a big Volvo that might be getting dusted by cheap shopping trolleys on unlimited stretches of autobahn is something of a gamble. It is also possible that people in other European countries who can afford Volvos would like the option of traveling in Germany at autobahn speeds.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s marketing to their customer base the same as a performance car ad speaks of how fast it can go which most owners will never hit.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      Yup. We need new terms to use about these weak-minded (yet aggressive, belliggerent, fascist) people, since the terms which kids used to describe them like ‘fag’ are associated with other negative meanings than what they are meant to convey in cases like these.

      Just weak, pathetic, spineless people with absolutely no balls.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Volvo: What to Drive, When You Don’t Trust Yourself!

    Is this the result of Geely corporate culture?

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      Volvo: “Lets increase security by you buying our cars which we are now turning into SUVs, therefore higher, heavier, less dynamically able (so worse at avoiding incidents and stopping), far more fatal to pedestrians, increasing road wear and particulates lifted off the road surface. Then we’ll add heavy batteries which increase weight even further, plus are good at making dangerous fires. Mining the materials for the batteries do not do that much good either. And did we mention we’re Chinese, so whenever you buy our products you’re funding and developing a totalitarian communist fascist Orwellian criminal nation?”

  • avatar
    lon888

    +20 over the posted limit in virtually every state is reckless driving so I’d say this a moot point. How often can one ever get over 100 mph on the Autobahn due to its crowding?

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      Um… every time I’ve driven on it.

      (Not scientific, I know, but that’s my experience)

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      I’ve spent considerable time in Germany and I don’t think I’ve ever stayed under 180 kilometers per hour on an unrestricted portion of any Autobahn. Many rental cars have stickers on their dashboards that tell you not to exceed 210, which is probably due to tire speed ratings. I hit a bit over 200 in a rental Audi A4 just last month. That was on the A5 heading to Stuttgart from Frankfurt. I absolutely love driving in Germany and I’m always so disappointed the first time I get home and drive on an American highway. Germans understand lane discipline and are much more courteous compared to American drivers.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’ve been driving since 1972, and I think I got to 105 mph once. I don’t see much practical use for highway speeds much past 90 or 95 mph, the fuel economy falls off so much, and at some point you’d be blowing past trucks, which for practical reasons generally travel around 65 mph, at such a speed differential that it starts to become dangerous.

    I suppose that this is one response to today’s overly powerful cars, most of them have a top speed well in excess of what can be practically used. My current car has a speed limiter as did my previous one, and I’ve never hit it, so this seems kind of a nonissue.

    I can see that this could be a problem for certain track day events, but I’ve never seen a Volvo at a track day so I suppose it doesn’t make any difference.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      We packed the portable GPS for use in the rental car on a trip which involved air travel. Months later driving around our home town, I was amused to see that our vehicle’s reported maximum speed was 565 mph…

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    There are going to be some pissed-off Millennials. This seems to be their normal rate of speed on the highways around Chicago anyway.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Long ago, I drove a Volvo 740 for a few years, 2.3 I4 with about 113 hp.

    Pushing hard and for a long time, it once saw 100mph on the speedometer.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Even more safety will result if they electrify their fleet with non-rechargeable batteries.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I’m conflicted about this. On one hand, I’m for freedom and personal responsibility. On the other, having been lucky enough to survive the amount of time I spent over 120 MPH in my stupid 20s, I find it difficult to justify travelling at those kinds of speeds on public roads.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I don’t think anyone is trying to justify driving 120 on American roads, but for me no amount of past JuniperBug speeding would justify paternalistic jacka$$ery from a corporate CEO selling luxury cars.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I don’t care one way or the other, but how about carmakers stop putting 160-180 MPH speedometers in econoboxes? Not only is it stupid, but the resolution(?) of the readout is compromised when the top speed a typical driver ever drives at is only about 1/3 of the sweep. I’m not saying we go back to the days of max 85mph speedometers with “55” highlighted, but anything over about 110 is really just unnecessary.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      +1 on this item. Pretty much every car I’ve owned suffers from this problem including my Corvette! It has a 200 mph meter but a top speed of around 185. Like most cars its drag limited. GM engineered a ton of downforce into the C7. Hitting 200 requires nearly 1,000HP! Turns out that last 20 mph is like punch thru a solid wall, amazing how strong air can be.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      I agree 100 percent. I was looking at a (gasp!) SUV the other day that had a 180 MPH speedo. First, it is limited to 155, second, no one in their right mind is going to drive an SUV anywhere near even 155 MPH. Essentially, by having a 180MPH speedo, you are wasting almost half of the range. 120 MPH would be a good max number on the speedo – unlikely to be hit in an SUV, but if you are so inclined, it will display it. And at the 85 MPH speed limit, you not be left of center on the speedo.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Take a close look at some speedometers (yes, even analog ones) and you’ll notice that many of them with high speeds will not have a consistent sweep as they go into triple digits. This allows good resolution of the typical speed ranges without “wasting” the remainder of the gauge on the higher speeds.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It just makes them look silly. Germany is all about speed and driver ability.

    “Fritz, bought the Volvo because you don’t trust yourself over certain speeds, eh?”

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    In my experience as a daily Autobahn user, the most dangerous drivers are not the speeders but the middle lane hoggers who suddenly change lanes at generally slow[er] speeds without checking for rear-approaching traffic. These drivers should actually be on the right lane. But instead they hog the middle lane at speeds barely faster than the truck traveling at 80 km/h on the right lane and disrupt the flow of traffic by forcing those who wish to cruise at 120/130 km/h to move into the outermost left lane where they become a potential safety hazard to the really fast drivers. Generally, these middle lane hoggers are a safety hazard.

    In German we call these people ‘Mittelspurschleicher’, which translates into ‘middle lane hogger’.

    If Volvo plans on pulling through with his ridiculous idea, then their future vehicles could actually become a safety hazard in the hands of slower and situationally unaware drivers, of which we sadly have too many on our roads these days.

    • 0 avatar

      You mean there were less in the past? Do the “guest” workers really know or follow German traffic rules and manners?

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        @Inside

        Over the last ten years I have been witnessing the decline of discipline, respect and intelligence on the Autobahns. The majority of drivers had better skills and situational awareness in the past.

        I have not seen any of Merkel‘s ‘guests’ behind the wheel, but the terrible drivers are usually in cheaper economy cars that struggle to accelerate rapidly at higher speeds. Even worse, these drivers do not react to the rapid flashing of my high beam lights (an understood signal on the Autobahn which states ‘Get out of the way!’).

        Just the other day I was behind an older Toyota Yaris on a relatively empty Autobahn who for no reason was hogging the fast lane (on a three lane Autobahn) at what must have been at around 140 km/h. I was approaching them rapidly in my menacing black Mercedes GL320 CDI, giving them rapid high beam flashes, but they would not budge. It was so infuriating that I almost decided to overtake on the right, which is illegal and severely punished if caught. Thankfully, the Yaris driver finally got out of the way and I continued on my high speed journey merging from the left to the right lane. In my rear-view-mirror I could see the Yaris driver, a young woman by the way, remaining on the middle lane instead of properly positioning herself on the right lane like they are supposed to.

        Occurrences like these are sadly too common in this day and age.

        • 0 avatar
          AtoB

          “Just the other day I was behind an older Toyota Yaris on a relatively empty Autobahn who for no reason was hogging the fast lane (on a three lane Autobahn) at what must have been at around 140 km/h. I was approaching them rapidly in my menacing black Mercedes GL320 CDI, giving them rapid high beam flashes, but they would not budge. It was so infuriating that I almost decided to overtake on the right, which is illegal and severely punished if caught. ”

          Anger Management. Just saying.

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            My anger management technique is to drive even faster. ;)

          • 0 avatar

            Thomas, one thing I am sure about – those guys are not Russians because Russians firstly do not drive slow in any lane and secondly are very well trained to give way to rapidly approaching menacing Mercedes (or Tahoe or Escalade for that matter) because if they don’t, there may be dire consequences including premature violent decease of said person and flashing high beam has the same meaning in Russia as in Germany and is widely used on highway.

            Not sure if that is the case in other East European countries of continent of Africa.

        • 0 avatar

          And how traffic police is not doing anything about it? Whats the point of having autobahn if there is no discipline on the road?

          BTW passing on the right lane is considered normal in America. I usually give enough space so they leave me alone. And sometime I do it myself for obvious reasons.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Wait! What about avoiding a moose at 112mph? Especially a really big one! I live in Virgina, that sucker would be set to have an “ahh-ooga” klaxon and strobe lights going off when I hit 78mph. BTW, anything over 80mph in VA is wreck-less driving. It’s a minor cottage industry to get speeding tickets reduced.

  • avatar
    vt8919

    Only 112? Gee, I wonder how we’ll manage.

    /sarcasm

  • avatar

    I was a SAAB guy while they existed….We had a joke.

    In Sweden, they make two cars.
    One is for the left lane (saab)
    One is for the right lane. (Volvo)

    Some things don’t change.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    This would not be appropriate to say today, but when I was a younger man, you would buy a Volvo to protect your wife or your kid that you knew was a bad driver. Maybe they are trying to recover that piece of the market.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Maybe Volvo is just subtkyvadmitting that they make dynamically crap cars which are so bad they need electronics to be driven safely. At least that was me experience with a S90 rental.

    Let’s say they have drifted far from my much beloved 850tirbo.

    Count me out as a customer

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    It’s just over management of the end customer. I love my 2017 XC90 don’t get me wrong but Volvo needs to understand that Americans like to make their own choices and don’t like to be managed. An example: I hated it when they took my temp gauge away. They gave it back to me in my 2015 XC60 and then took it away again in my 2017 XC90. I like to have all the data in front of me and keep off the throttle until the car starts to warm up. Their engineers say that that’s not necessary. I don’t care if its necessary! I want the data so I can decide on my own course of action. Most cars I believe limit themselves around 130mph and that’s what we are used to. That’s the norm and there’s no reason to change it. I know that my car will go 130 if I ask it to. I never would but I get to make that decision. This whole thing reminds me of 80s car speedos that stopped at 85mph. Maybe Volvo could speak to the number of people that die when their Volvos were driven between 112 and 130mph….. another thought. Make the change and don’t advertise it. I’d probably never know but now you’ve pissed me off and I don’t want to buy your cars anymore.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, this is amusing and interesting. Of course — with the possible exception of Germans — most car buyers don’t come close to exploring the top speed potential of their vehicles. But they buy power anyway.

    Volvo’s implicit message is: “don’t waste your money; because we’re not going to let you use it anyway!”

    It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

    As the driver of a governed 420 hp half ton pickup truck, I have kissed but not slammed into the 98 mph governed top speed. In a number of western states, the speed limit on certain highways is 80 or 85. So, it’s not that hard to find the limit if you’re say, shooting the gap between a slow-moving truck and a left-lane bandit. And, FTW, on those highways, I do the posted limit not the usual 5 mph over.

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