Volvo to limit its cars' top speed to 112 mph

The change will go into effect in 2020, on all 2021 model year Volvos.

Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
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Volvo is a name synonymous with safety -- this is the car company that invented the three-point seat belt, after all. Now, the Swedish automaker is taking a big initiative to combat speeding, and announced Monday that it will soon limit the top speed of all its cars to 112 miles per hour.

The company wants to send "a strong signal about the dangers of speeding," according to an official statement, and says this speed-limiting change will go into effect in 2020, on 2021 model year vehicles.

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"While a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it's worth doing if we can even save one life," Volvo Car Group president Håkan Samuelsson said in a statement.

It's unclear if this 112-mph speed limit will apply to just Volvos, or if Polestar cars will be affected as well. Volvo also did not specifically state if this change will only affect the US, or if other global markets will have speed-limited cars, too. This could be a deal-breaker for folks in, say, Germany, a country known for its many unrestricted sections of Autobahn. The company also did not specify if customers will be able to spec a speed delimiter upon request. A Volvo spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

This move comes as part of the company's "Vision 2020" safety initiative, which "aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020." The Swedish automaker says it has identified speeding as one of several driver behaviors that it intends to reduce.

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"We want to start a conversation about whether carmakers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver's behavior," Samuelsson said. To that end, the company is also investigating whether or not it should implement "smart speed control" and geofencing technologies, which could automatically restrict a vehicle's speed in dense pedestrian areas, or near places like schools and hospitals.

Volvo notes that, above certain speeds, in-car safety tech is not enough to prevent severe injuries or fatalities in the event of a collision. The company points out that 25 percent of all traffic fatalities in the US in 2017 were caused by speeding, citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

Of course, here in the US, a 112-mph top end won't technically matter to most folks. A Texas highway currently has the highest posted speed limit in the country, at 85 mph, and there are no unrestricted sections of public roadway.

In addition to speeding, Volvo is looking at things like driver distraction and intoxication as problem areas in its quest to make all roadways safer. The company says it will soon offer ideas on how to combat these issues, as well.

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