Volvo are making cars even safer, by making them slower

Toyota are known for making reliable cars, Mercedes are known for their luxury and Volvo are known for bringing new motoring safety innovations and producing the safest cars available. Now, the Swedish vehicle manufacturer is deciding to reduce the limited top speed of all of their new vehicles from 130 mph to 112 mph. That’s a bold move, Volvo.

This change has been announced to be taking effect next year (2020) and will be applied to all of their new cars from that point onward. The drop in top speed marks a 13.8% reduction in top speed and Volvo President and CEO, Hakan Samuelsson, had this to say:

“While a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life”

Volvo President and CEO - Hakan Samuelsson 1

A noble cause indeed and a bold statement to the rest of the motoring industry. Could this influence other big car manufacturers and encourage similar action?

Volvo: The boss of safety

Volvo have been at the forefront of vehicle safety for decades. For example, in 1959 a Volvo engineer named Nils Bohlin invented a little old innovation which you may have heard of – the three-point seatbelt. Now found in virtually all cars around the world, this game-changing safety invention originated from Volvo. Another reason why the 3-point seatbelt became so widespread is because Volvo opened up the patent so that any vehicle manufacturer could adopt it. Rather than profiting off the invention, Volvo, with great nobility, gave their invention away to save lives.

Volvo V60 front side 2

Volvo have been at the forefront of vehicle safety for decades. For example, in 1959 a Volvo engineer named Nils Bohlin invented a little old innovation which you may have heard of – the three-point seatbelt. Now found in virtually all cars around the world, this game-changing safety invention originated from Volvo. Another reason why the 3-point seatbelt became so widespread is because Volvo opened up the patent so that any vehicle manufacturer could adopt it. Rather than profiting off the invention, Volvo, with great nobility, gave their invention away to save lives.

Volvo V60 interior 3

Other inventions to come from Volvo include blind spot detection mirrors, automatic emergency braking, whiplash protection seats and rear-facing child seats. With their rather esteemed history of being the leaders of car safety, this reduction in top speed is a message that will likely be heard (and taken seriously) by other big manufacturers. From Ford to BMW to Nissan, big brands like this could take similar action in the coming years.

Volvo are incredibly focussed on road safety and they’ve made that very clear in their ambitious vision:

“Our vision is that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.”

Why it’s good and why it’s bad

Volvo V60 cross country edition rear 4

You may think that if someone crashes their car at 112 mph, they’ll be in just as much danger as they would be if driving 130 mph. Well, in most cases you’d be right. However, even if that 18mph reduction in speed makes those types of crashes just 5% safer than before, that could equate to a matter of hundreds of lives saved over X amount of years.

On the other hand, this move can easily spawn some criticisms. One being that most injury-inducing accidents happen at speeds below 60 mph and only a minority of accidents happen at high speed. Another problem with this is that the reduction in top speed could lead to consumers perceiving Volvo cars as slow. Could this hurt their reputation?

Volvo SUV lineup 5

Lastly, some drivers in certain countries could actually feel the impacts of this reduction. For example, those that need to regularly drive on one of Germany’s many autobahns (motorways without speed limits) would probably no longer consider buying a Volvo. When travelling long distances, an 18 mph reduction in speed can equate to valuable time lost. And if you have to do that long drive each day, that extra time spent in the car each day will turn into hours lost each week.

Some are calling it a silly publicity stunt and an exercise in futility, whereas others are praising the company for paving the way in car safety. Where do your opinions lie?

One Response

  1. Edward Harding

    How many Volvo drivers or even how many drivers have ever been over 100 mph for any more than a few seconds. Germany has stretches where there is no limit but get caught in a limited area and they trow the book case at you. This is rather daft as it wont sell any more cars but because of the Macho Image “my car does xxx mph” it will probably sell less.

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