Volvo’s decision to introduce a 112mph (180km/h) top speed on all its new cars from mid-2020 onwards is sure to spark a debate – and that’s exactly what the company is hoping for.
The Swedish firm has long pioneered making cars safer, and company boss Håkan Samuelsson said that having pushed car safety technology, it’s now time to focus on the three main human factors that contribute to road accidents: speeding, distraction and intoxication.
Samuelsson said the choice of 112mph was “a balance”: it exceeds the maximum speed limit in just about every country bar Germany. He added: “This is a limit where nobody should need a faster car.”
What comes next – particularly in attempting to combat distracted and intoxicated driving – is more intriguing, because it raises questions about balancing personal freedom with responsibility. As Volvo puts it, do car makers have the right or obligation to install in cars technology that can change a driver's behaviour?
GPS technology can be used to know the speed limits on roads someone is driving on. It’s an easy step from there to have such systems enforce the limit. At the same time, driver monitoring technology is being constantly refined and will soon be able to tell when someone behind the wheel is distracted or intoxicated – and potentially stop them from driving.