Auto Tech

Volvo's orange Care Key lets owners set speed limits for thrill-seeking youths

Too bad you can't get the regular keys in orange, too.

I'd feel bad giving this away to a teen, if only because it looks cooler than the normal key. Maybe that's Volvo's tricky way of getting the youths to accept limitations.

Volvo

Volvo's determination to make its cars as safe as humanly possible knows no bounds. The automaker has already imposed strict speed limits on future models, and it's announced in-car cameras that can monitor for distracted driving. Now, it has a little orange cherry for the top of this safety sundae.

Volvo on Wednesday introduced the Care Key, yet another weapon in Volvo's arsenal devoted to making its cars (and the road in general) safer. Compared to the in-car cameras that debuted at the same time, the Care Key is nice and straightforward -- it allows an owner to set a speed limit for the car before handing the vehicle off to a lead-footed teenager. No matter how hard they try, the car won't eclipse the predetermined speed.

Best of all, Care Key won't be optional. It will be standard equipment on all Volvo cars starting in the 2021 model year. Hopefully, the key's limit can be set to the car's maximum limit, because I can't be the only person lusting after the orange leather that covers this key. It's way more interesting than a key that only matches the interior color.

Volvo said that the key might be used in future schemes aimed at lowering insurance premiums. The automaker says that it's "currently inviting" insurers in various markets to discuss the idea of promoting favorable rates for Volvo users with these keys, since it's a baked-in way to improve safety for everyone on the road. "If we can encourage and support better behavior with technology that helps drivers to stay out of trouble, that should logically also have a positive impact on insurance premiums," said Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Cars, in a statement.

In addition to Care Key, Volvo has recently unveiled other measures aimed at making the roads safer. Starting with the same model-year-2021 vehicles that will receive the Care Key, Volvo will limit those vehicles to just 112 miles per hour. The company also trotted out an in-car camera system that can monitor for signs of distracted or intoxicated driving and, if necessary, stop the car on the roadside. It's part of Volvo's "Vision 2020" initiative, in which the automaker seeks to ensure nobody will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.