As some of you may know, a couple of months ago Volvo made some waves in the industry and among consumers by stating that they would eventually be capping the top speed of their vehicles to 180 km/h – globally. At first, we imagined this to be more of a knee jerk statement or something selectively applied – but it seems that they are really going through with it, and according to Akhtar Sulaiman, Marketing and PR Director of Volvo Cars Malaysia, it will be applied here too.
How soon do you see Volvo models having this limit imposed locally?
I cannot confirm that at this stage. What we do know is that the speed limiter function will be integrated on cars after the stipulated production date. I can tell you, however, that the rollout will happen somewhere in Q4 of 2020.
In line with Volvo’s overarching vision to have zero deaths/serious injuries in new Volvo cars by 2025, we feel that we need to proactively make certain changes so that we can achieve these results.
Will the limit be retroactively applied to other models in the future?
Once the speed-limiter function is enabled, after said production date, it will be applied to all cars sold globally.
Will the limit be applied to existing models that have already been sold?
No, the speed limiter will only be applied to units that are produced after the stipulated production date.
While it may seem like a flagrant violation of your rights, there isn’t anything particularly awful about having a speed limit cap. For one, the Japanese have had fairly rigorous 180 km/h speed limiters for decades, and even until today there are some cars that maintain that limiter if you import them via parallel channels.
The other issue is that many parts of the world aren’t equipped for vehicles travelling at such high speeds. There are many who quote the Autobahn as being a driving Nirvana for its de-restricted sections, but one needs to drive on these European highways to understand why they can be de-restricted as such.
Similarly, many parts of the Autobahn are no longer speed-limit-free. Roadworks and traffic during actual driving hours result in pretty normal travelling speeds – far from the over 200 km/h speeds that people associate with the highway. There are still times when one can drive as fast as they wish, but those times are becoming few and far between.
There is also the legal angle to consider, as our friends at Motormuse have mentioned in passing. In order for someone to be breaking the law with regards to speed, there first has to be a law with a strict definition of a speed limit. In the event of an incident, there must be a party on which the blame can fall in order to make reparations.
This kind of limitless speed situation has led to incidents in the past where the blame in the event of an accident can be difficult to place. One particularly high profile case involving a modified Audi R8 landed one journalist in the hospital, and the public at large was divided in opinion as to whose fault it was. While the section of the Autobahn on which the incident happened was derestricted, there are also unspoken rules as to what kind of speed you should adjust to when passing other traffic.
And even beyond all this, there’s the question of maturity. Some of you may feel comfortable and confident driving at extremely high speeds – and that’s great! Unfortunately, the vast majority of drivers on the road (especially in Malaysia) have trouble getting even the basics right – from lane discipline to signal use, and even keeping cars in a condition appropriate for high speed driving. If people are too lazy to even check their tyre pressures, what makes you think removing a speed limit is a good idea?
Which brings us back to our main point. Having a 180 km/h speed limit imposed by Volvo’s own systems isn’t the end of the world. Unless you happen to have some incredible luck, you won’t even be able to travel faster than 180 km/h regularly for sustained periods of time, because other road users will inevitably get in your way.