Volvo will limit the top speed of its cars to 112mph from 2020 in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents. The cap will prevent drivers from accelerating to the top speeds of up to 155mph many Volvos can reach.
The Swedish brand, which was acquired in 2010 by the Chinese firm Zhejiang Geely, has long had a reputation for prioritising road safety and aims to eliminate fatalities where speed is a factor.
It said the electronic restriction focused on driver behaviour because mechanical solutions alone could not ensure safety. The limit will apply to all cars made from mid-2020 onwards.
Volvo is believed to be the first carmaker to install the cap across its entire range. Police vehicles will be exempt.
Similar technology has been installed on several high-performance cars in Germany, but at a much higher speed limit.
The general speed limit for motorways in EU member states is 75-80mph (120-130km/h). Germany does not have a general cap for motorways but recommends a speed of up to 80mph.
Speeding remained one of the main contributors to road deaths, Volvo said, along with drug and drink intoxication and mobile phone use.
Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo’s president and chief executive, said: “While a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life. 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 behaviour.”
Volvo is also exploring how geofencing – a virtual geographic boundary defined by GPS technology – can be used to automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals.
About a quarter of road deaths in the UK and the US in 2017 were caused by speeding, according to the latest available data from the Department for Transport and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.