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Volvo is introducing a 112mph speed limiter to all its new cars (arstechnica.com)
108 points by BerislavLopac 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 260 comments



There is no circumstances under which a maximum speed of 112 would bother me. I drive a Honda Fit. I don't think I have ever driven it over 85 miles per hour (137km/hr). I'm not comfortable driving faster than that. What makes me mad is that my speedometer goes up to 140mph! Why?! The only answer I've ever seen that makes sense is that it's a marketing tool, but who honestly buys a Honda Fit and thinks to themselves "if this thing can't do 140 then forget it!" The downside is that it's actually very hard for me to tell exactly how fast I'm going because in general I'm driving less than 60mph in my daily commute and yet that range is only 43% of my analog speedometer. I honestly wish it only went up to 100mph, then I'd be using 60% of the resolution of the dial. Instead I have no idea whether I'm going 35 or 40 unless I really stare at the thing :(


> I'm not comfortable driving faster than that.

Of course you're not comfortable driving faster than that in a Honda Fit. That's like saying you're not comfortable going faster than 30 in a golf cart.

In the right car and on the right roads, hitting 120 is as simple and easy as hitting 70 in typical econoboxes. And actually, I'm not even talking about a Porsche 911; more like, every German car, especially Audi/BMW/Merc and up. Effortless is the best word for it, like you push the pedal down and you don't even realize you're in the triple digits because it's so smooth.

But the big problem is the roads and the culture around speed. America doesn't have either of those things, and probably never will.


> But the big problem is the roads and the culture around speed. America doesn't have either of those things, and probably never will.

A culture of safety is not a "big problem" IMO. The "big problem" is that a vehicle at 120mph requires an insane stopping distance.

On dry asphalt:

* 60mph: 172 ft * 120mph: 688 ft

[1] http://forensicdynamics.com/stopping-braking-distance-calcul...


Doesn't this stopping distance depend on the car? Said German cars have bigger breaks and bigger tyre surface and have been proven to stop quicker. Top Gear showed this often (Australian trip with the m6, Bentley and gtr) all stopping in less than half the Highway Code distance...)


Stopping distance does depend on the car, but physics has a bigger influence. The kinetic energy in a car is 1/2mv^2. No matter what car you're in, going twice as fast requires dissipating four times the energy in order to stop.

So, take a sporty car with twice the braking performance of a basic car, and you can go 1.44x as fast as the basic car while still having the same stopping distance.

I have a very light car that I use on the track, with an amazing amount of braking for its weight. Full deceleration happens at 2.5g, that's not pleasant. There are also comfort limits here.


Reaction time has an even bigger influence. Slower speed = more reaction time


Distance covered during reaction time scales linearly with speed, while distance covered under braking goes up exponentially.


Might not be pleasant but guessing hitting something would be less pleasant...


Yes, it matters enough that you should pretty much ignore any skid calculator without a weight component. Consumer reports even put together a list on which cars have the best "safety performance" that measured things like braking distance; the SUVs rank pretty hilariously

https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/best-car-safety-p...


The 100 km/h stopping distance of a BMW M5 is ~30m, compared to 41m for a Honda Fit.

https://fastestlaps.com/lists/top-quickest-stoppers-60mph

That's a pretty good performance (but it's a $100K car), but at 200 km/hr, the stopping distance of the M5 increase to 124m (which makes sense since a 200 km/h car has 4X the kinetic energy of a 100 km/h car)

Once out of the specialty racing cars, all of the cars "faster stoppers" list took about 27m-30m to stop from 100 km/h so that seems about the best that can be achieved today.


Since cars and trucks weight vary highly, there is actually a norm that sets how big the breaks should be so that everyone has the same emergency halting distance. This diminishes the chances of a pile-up.


I think my broader point is really that, as assistive tech continues to increase in reliability and deployment breadth, Speed is something we as a society should consider raising.

German cars are feel AMAZING at high speeds. They're not the only ones, but dollar for dollar its easier to take a German car to 120 than any other nationality. Why? Because they're made to be driven on the Autobahn. They are, all else equal, safer to drive at high speed than American or Japanese cars because Germany has a stronger culture and laws around allowing cars to drive fast.

As we add assistive tech, it becomes safer to take cars this fast. Of course, there's a lot of other things to solve; roads, adoption, etc. And we can't solve the physics of stopping and impact force. But the benefits might outweigh the costs.

But Volvo, if we take them at their word, is saying "we don't care. This is as fast as you can go. Enjoy."

And sure, maybe their speed limit is fast enough. But, really, this move is just posturing. The tangible effect that it will have on vehicle safety likely won't be large; at best, it might stop some dumb kids from taking their dad's car out for a joyride and driving it off a bridge at 130, but its not going to stop them from doing the exact same thing at 100, or even 60 (on some backroads that speed is just as deadly).

When they limit their top speed, what they're also quietly saying "these cars are only engineered to go this fast". That engineering is why German cars are so great to drive in the triple digits. Its not just the platform; Volvo has computerized assistive tech. Is it tested to actually work at triple digits? Probably. Now that they have a corporate-wide mandated speed limit, will they continue to develop and test it at triple digits? I don't know.

And that's the real disappointment. We're now just "alright" with the speed we've always been driving. Cars could become "personal bullet trains". With enough assistive tech, give certified models their own barriered lane and, if the weather conditions permit, let them go 140. But Volvo isn't interested in that future, and that's very sad indeed.


There's a big problem with your idea of letting cars drive faster: the drivers.

German drivers are simply not like American drivers. American drivers have almost no training at all, and certainly don't have the training or discipline necessary to drive at Autobahn speeds. American drivers can't even practice proper lane etiquette (staying right except to pass), and really don't understand it.

The last thing American roads need is any assumption that American drivers are remotely like German drivers in ability.

Remember, in America, almost everyone drives because there's no public transit in most places, and even where it exists, it's kinda lousy at best. In Germany, it's perfectly possible to get around without a car, unless you're going to small villages or towns or rural places. Because of this, not all Germans drive! It costs a lot of money to get the private training required to obtain a license there, and driver testing is strict. None of this is true in America.

Finally, if you want bullet trains, build bullet trains. Bullet trains are very safe at speed because they're on rails, and are maintained by professionals on a strict schedule. You don't get that with privately-owned vehicles. And cars are horrifically bad for pollution and fuel economy compared to trains when operating at high speeds. We're spewing way too much carbon into the atmosphere as it is. If you want to move people around faster, you need to build the proper infrastructure for this, like the Japanese have with the Shinkansen.


I think your whole premise here is, North American speed limits would go up if only we had enough cars that felt good at higher speeds?

If so, I don't think automotive performance and lack of "smooth feel" at high speed are the things governing our speed limits.


No; my premise is that the smoothness and reliability at high speeds is the result of an environment which put demands on German auto manufacturers to develop cars which could handle the high speeds. Volvo is artificially creating an internal environment of lower speeds, which means their technology, hardware and software, won't be designed or at least optimized to work at high speeds. Moreover, they're asserting to the public that slower speeds are safer, which is generally true but also regressive and a vast over-simplification of the situation.

We should be celebrating companies which push the limits of assistive technology to make high speeds safer; this can only be done by companies who optimize around high speeds and have cars on the road gathering data at high speed. This conclusion is evidenced by the fact that similarly priced German and Japanese/American cars drive totally differently at high speeds, because German cars are designed to run at high speeds. The environment and corporate policy matters, a lot.

The reason our speed limits in America are generally low isn't really because of road feel or reliability at speed or any of that. Its more complex. But one step in a positive direction is definitely having more cars on the road with companies behind them who say "the cameras on this thing? they can detect a stopped car 300 meters out and take progressive action without any human intervention." Over time, we might see change. Or not. But that's a necessary factor.

On the other hand, Volvo is saying "don't drive faster than 112mph! that's dangerous, no one should ever do that and we'll never support it on our consumer cars" which is regressive. We can do better; we just need people and companies to Want to.


Stopping distance is not an issue if you don’t need to stop in the first place.

That means good road maintenance, no abrupt turns, properly protecting access (even from wild life, which can mean underpass for big animals), easy way out for people to go slow if they feel it won’t do it for them, frequent info panels in case anything happens.

Of course for all of that there needs to be an underlying safety culture.


properly protecting access (even from wild life, which can mean underpass for big animals)

Too bad no such roads exist, not even the Autobahn (warning, graphic photos):

http://www.montanaoutdoor.com/2013/10/deer-disintegrates-on-...

And not even race tracks are guaranteed to be animal-free:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristiano_da_Matta#Collision_w...


If you're looking to prove who has a better "culture of safety", shouldn't you be looking at accident statistics, not some random basic kinematics without context? There are places that drive slower but have more accidents.


I suppose, although these "random basic kinematics" are actually "highly relevant first principles of safety" in automobiles (stopping distance).

If you prefer starting from accident statistics, here are a variety of studies across a variety of locations that generally show a ~2% increase in accidents per 1 km/h of speed. [1]

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowle...


Geography and equipment do not change your ability to react to events.

I've driven 180-200 km/h on the German autobahns (in a car that could handle it) and I could tell I was driving at the edge or slightly beyond my vision and reaction time. It was freaking scary. I don't know if every driver out there could tell when they were hitting that limit. The golf cart analogy doesn't apply here IMO.


Similar for me: ~160-180 km/h in Germany and ~130-140 km/h in Switzerland is my limit since always, if the highway is in good condition + weather is good + traffic is low + I'm not tired + etc... .


Are you talking about curving roads? 220 km/h is no problem on straight flat stretches.


the autobahn is specifically designed not to have unbroken flat straight stretches because that disengages the drivers


Yes, couldn't agree more. It has a lot to do with what is enforced in America and Canada. Rather than trying to limit reckless, unpredictable driving on the aggressive end, and driving that impedes the flow of traffic on the conservative end (which causes others to be aggressive and reckless), we've optimized for the enforcement of speed.


I drive a 392 challenger scat pack shaker... I don't think I've ever had it over 100, though the max is 201. I'm not sure I'd be bothered by a regulator for the top speed.

That said, I don't think speeding is even close to the number 1 killer these days... Cell phones seem to be the leading cause of accidents these days. Maybe they should detect motion over 5mph and turn off display of messaging apps, only bluetooth voice interactions allowed.


High speed is one of three problem areas Volvo has identified according to their press release. The other two are drunk driving and distraction, including phones. They will present ideas to tackle the other two on March 20.

https://www.media.volvocars.com/global/en-gb/media/pressrele...


Distracted driving is definitely the leading cause these days; driver fatigue, drunk driving and aggressive driving are the other leading causes.

But even if it didn't cause the accident, accidents at reasonable speeds (<30km/h for car-pedestrian, <120km/h for car-car) are usually survivable. At higher speeds, fatalities increase dramatically.


> accidents

I prefer to use the term "collision" because "accident" implies there's nobody to blame.


My Ag Science teacher used to say that. (not so much about collisions, but other incidents)


Definitely.

Like, there's no such thing as a gun accident. If someone ever accidentally gets shot, it means someone wasn't following one of the prime rules of gun safety.


There have definitely been recalls/warnings for firearms which have misfired without anyone's finger on the trigger.

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/06/investigates/sig-sau...


Certainly. I recall seeing a video of a pump shotgun firing while the safety was on.

But as long as you always treat your firearms as loaded and never point it at something you're not willing to kill or destroy, you shouldn't have any "accidents".


I saw the movie last night :)


I saw it years ago, and it was passed off as a joke, but I think it's incredibly true.

I would be willing to bet money that at least 90% of crashes are caused by at least 1 driver doing something stupid. Using their phone while driving, not adequately looking before changing lanes, ignoring signs or traffic lights, driving drunk, etc. Calling these types of crashes "accidents" lessens the responsibility on the person that caused it. When you're in control of a 2,000+ hunk of steel, there's no room for carelessness.


> I drive a 392 challenger scat pack shaker... I don't think I've ever had it over 100

I don't see the point of a vehicle like this unless you drag race it on a regular basis. It has limited utility, is larger than an Abrams tank, guzzles fuel like it's 1998 and couldn't make it around a slalom cone course even with a skilled driver. It's a make a lot of noise and go really fast in a straight line car. That's what it does (nothing wrong with that).


It’s a five seater that is comfortable for a tall person, with classic muscle car looks, cruises nicely, can accelerate half-decently and has a throaty sound.

I don’t have the 392, but a 345, and no other car hits those same bullet points.


I've driven it across the country a few times... twice from AZ through to northern WA, and out to FL once. It's fun to drive, accelerates nicely... for that matter, most of my highway time is in 4cyl (eco mode at 30+mpg). Last drive from WA to Phoenix, the average was 34mpg. On the flip side, I can go uphill and not feel like I'm stuck in molasses.

In town driving I get around 19mpg average... by contrast, the last 4cyl car I had got around 24mpg in town, and was horrible to drive.

I also prefer the looks, and sit very comfortably compared to smaller cars (I'm big and tall). I don't sit comfortably in any other coupe.


Well, "scat" is in the name.


it's fun to drive

entertainment has value to some people


I get it (I'm an amateur race car driver). What I'm saying is, OP is not using the car to it's full potential.


Most people don't use things to their full potential. We have cars with larger engines than needed, CPUs and memory banks that rarely stay above 90%, food that gets tossed out daily, laundry washed and dried at half capacity and below, and so on. Many developed nations would look differently if we used everything to their full potential potential.


My new iphone will actually ask me to confirm that I am not driving before unlocking when it thinks I am


All that adds is an extra step. The type of person who texts while driving is going to lie to their phone and tell it they're a passenger right before they start texting.


What’s worse than distracted driving? Being interrupted while distracted driving.


This depends on whether you have this setting enabled.


I know, but for me it was on by default.


That would really suck if you were a passenger in a car, train, bus, or airplane.


I've always wondered the same thing - My theory is that at normal freeway speeds, the indicator points more or less at 12 o'clock, which is easier to see for a driver.


I think it's related to gear ratio and redline. My 89 Honda Accord LX-i needed around 3250 RPM to hit 70. The speedometer maxed at 130. If you extrapolate that's about right. I found out it was drag /horsepower limited to just over 100 but if it had the power the actual max before possible engine damage would be 130.

Of course this is based off one car so I could be totally wrong.


There's a sizeable number of people on german highways driving at 180kph though. There's a lot of good arguments against it though.


plenty of people on Portuguese highways every day driving at 200kph... and a whole lot of them between 160 and 180.


It is funny that you mention the speedo goes to 140.

The speedo on my Miata goes to 150, except in 6th gear you hit the rev limiter at 136. I'd rather them make the top end more reasonable and make the scale s bigger.


6th gear is usually an overdrive gear (meant for cruising on a highway to preserve fuel). It's very possible that you'll get a higher top speed in 5th.


GP said "hit the rev limiter" not "run out of engine power".


Free upvote for Miata. What a fantastic vehicle.


>that range is only 43% of my analog speedometer.

I don't know why electronic display isn't more of a thing. My 13 year old Toyota displays the number using LED lights, it's far easier to read.


It takes more effort to read a number, than a relative position on a gauge. Yeah, you don't know the exact speed, but you do know the rough speed while taking your eyes off the road and being distracted for less time.

Of course, a lot of new cars can do both. ;-)


I used to own a Honda Civic with a large digital speedometer above the steering wheel. With my eyes focused on the road, I could see the speed I was traveling at.

Of course, newer cars have HUD speedometers which project your speed onto your windshield glass.


No it's not. Digital display makes me costantly aware of my speed. Analog gauge makes me focus on 1cm of length and bunch of nearby numbers to figure out the speed. And for rough estimation I just look outside.


Personally I prefer analog.

I think its mainly down to analog giving you feedback as to whether you're increasing or decreasing in speed. If I'm approaching a speed camera in a 30mph zone, a glance at an analog speedo, and peripheral vision to confirm it isn't increasing is enough. Digital I need at least 2 full readings.

Plus you have a spacial element to analog speedos. I know where 30mph is, I don't need to read 30mph.


Many studies show that's not really true, it takes you longer to read and process the number than an analog dial. You don't notice the time it takes though.


I was just thinking about these purported studies this weekend.

My wife’s car has an analog speedometer in the left and a center digital display between the speedometer and the tach which can show many things, one of which is a nice big digital speed indicator.

When the digital display is showing something else it takes me 2x-3x as much time to ascertain the current speed from the speedometer.

I think the studies are possibly being influenced by people’s familiarity with speedometers in cars. If you asked someone to tell you the temperature in the room and gave them an analog gauge and a digital display, which one would be faster?

Once you acclimate to the digital display I’ve found I can read it faster and more precisely.

It may be possible to see “under 60” on the gauge faster than read “57” on the display, but I doubt even that. And when I’m trying to check or set my speed to be exactly 9 over the limit, the digital is much, much faster.


I think with enough time spent in a specific car, most drivers don’t really look at the numbers and more at the general direction of the dial. Basically your “under 60” example.

It’s facilitated if you mentaly divide in quadrants: you can identify the first bold tick above the horizontal middle line as 60 for instance, and it becomes extremely quick to know if you’re under, at, or above 60, at one two units of error at most.

You’ll also only need to remember two or three relevant positions.

I tbink digital is fine, I’d just see optimisations when on analog in this specific use case (but it needs to be center and big and clear, a small dial on the side is bothersome)


Thankfully an additional digital speedometer is becoming common. I get the logical design of making your speedometer going from zero to the max speed of the vehicle under its own power, but in practice it isn't very useful.


> What makes me mad is that my speedometer goes up to 140mph! Why?!

For your answer, take a look at this modern Ferrari speedo:

https://www.straight.com/files/v3/styles/gs_large/public/ima...

If the link doesn't work, the key thing is: the bottom right quadrant of the speedo is just blank. Top speed is indicated at three o'clock on the face of the speedo. You'll see a similar layout on some of their modern tachometers.

This is by no means universal but it's more popular nowadays. The idea is that when you're travelling at high speed you've minimized the amount of time and effort involved in looking at the instruments. You can sort-of, kind-of rely on your peripheral vision, but that's harder to do as the needle moves further and further downward, away from the road and closer to the center of the steering wheel.

With collectible sports cars with traditional instruments, you can often see examples of this that involve having rotated the speedo, or more likely just the tachometer, to a position where it's most easily readable when the redline is reached. That invovles getting the needle vertical and/or putting it where it's not obscured by the steering wheel, also an important factor.

http://forums.pelicanparts.com/porsche-911-technical-forum/2...

It's also becoming common to see replacement faces for those old instruments available for sale, so they look a little less goofy when rotated ninety degrees (or whatever) counterclockwise.

With a subcompact car that isn't super fast, these visibility purposes can be served but the owner can also sort of feel like their car is a lot faster than it actually is if the speed numbers keep increasing down and to the right. That part is stupid, but it actually does make the speedo more readable most of the time.


> What makes me mad is that my speedometer goes up to 140mph! Why?!

It used to be that car companies would simply put the same speedometer in every vehicle to cut costs and make production easier. So that's why you could see a minivan and a race car with the same speedometer. Car companies cut weird corners.


The Fit's estimated top speed is 115. Applying logic to the problem I'd say it goes to 140 because it probably supports switching to km/h mode (e.g. if you need to drive through Canada) and 140 km/h = ~85 mph which as you say is probably the reasonable limit to take the vehicle


Most speedometers have a second ruler specifying the km/h speed. It would add a lot of unneeded complexity to change the speedometer's movement rate depending on mph vs. km/h: It's a lot easier to just use a different guideline on the existing dashboard.


That's not really an indicator of if the car supports switching the primary or not, I've had plenty of rentals with both on the speedometer while still having the ability to switch the primary.

I agree that either way it's easier to use a single speedometer with a different overlay.


The secondary ruler is clearly just that -- secondary. The text and markings are often smaller.

It's likely way easier to flip a switch on the spedometer, then swap out the faceplate than you think.


If you are switching out the faceplate, then it doesn't make sense for the MPH faceplate to go to 140


You would have to reconfigure the hardware to move the needle differently. Depending on the vintage of the control electronics this may be easier said than done.


I don't know if it's true of all manufacturers but I know for certain that BMW does change the faceplate.

It's why on MPH cars the MPG dial counts down, whereas the litres/100km counts up on metric cars (which makes more sense)


But MPH says 'MPH' on my car at least. It would be very confusing if that wasn't MPH. The manufacturer would probably also end up getting sued.


Can confirm, I've gotten my fit up to 115 on the PA turnpike for giggles.


I'll bet in can go faster than that down hills...


> What makes me mad is that my speedometer goes up to 140mph! Why?!

It's a standard dial they stick in all models / engines


Which Honda goes 140 mph? As the article points out, Japanese domestic cars have been limited to 112 mph for years. High performance cars like the NSX and Type R trims go far faster than that.


Without the speed limiter, I'd guesstimate that any Civic or Accord could brush up against 140 mph. 2.0L 4cyl engines make surprising power nowadays


Most of these cars are not fitted with tires that can safely handle that speed. It would be a dangerous thing to try, even on a track, if the car is not properly prepped beforehand.


Not not sure why you're getting downvotes.

I'm an amateur race car driver (Champcar). Our Honda Civic is fitted with a professional roll cage, hans device and fire suppression system (not to mention the fireproof suit and helmet). I'd be nervous in any vehicle over 100mph without these added protections.


Wait... correct me if I'm wrong, but a HANS device doesn't connect to the seat or other car parts. It's a link between the helmet and a stabilizing piece that fits over the shoulders.

At least, in Formula 1 that's what it is.


Maybe so, but not knowing your speed would be even more dangerous.


The 112 limit was only for JDM models, most USDM Honda models are potentially limited to around 150 since they use V tires


Surely both the Civiv Type R and the NSX do, although I don't see those two models using the standard instrumentation.


It's looking like lots of cars are switching to all-screen dashboards anyways... My new VW has one and I actually really like it.


I guess I am getting old, my first thought is "my efficiency would suck". Still I wonder how a speed considerably higher than the highest speed limits I could find in a google search was determined.

Is there particular energy threshold for impact they were looking at? I am not sure that speed is survivable in any front end or offset crash with current technology but a crash where the car spins of control and doesn't impact anything won't much care unless the speed they picked is at the threshold for the average car to lose total control at.


> Still I wonder how a speed considerably higher than the highest speed limits I could find in a google search was determined.

My assumption is that they used the tires' speed rating. "S" rated tires are intended for a maximum speed of 112 MPH, while "H" rated tires are intended for a maximum speed of 130 MPH.


What we need here is a log scale speedometer. Goes up to 140 in case your brakes and transmission fail while descending a steep hill, but gives you plenty of resolution at the lower speeds.


Because as I was hurtling down the hill doing 140 with no brakes, my first concern would be knowing what speed I was doing.

Presumably if the speedo only went to 112mph, it would be impossible to go faster (that's how it works, right?), so you'd know what speed you were doing anyway.


> Because as I was hurtling down the hill doing 140 with no brakes, my first concern would be knowing what speed I was doing.

Exactly -- it would be hard to discriminate between 120 and 140 on a log scale speedometer, but when you're going that fast, does the speed really matter?


In the past 2 years, Volvo discontinued all engines with more than 4 cylinders [1], announced that all future cars would be HEV or EV [2], then declared that the current ICEs would not be developed further.

Other car companies make a few innovative models, but (apart from Tesla) I don't know any other companies which have made sweeping statements about every model they'll ever make. I think Volvo has the strongest brand today, in the sense that I know what they stand for. They've come a long way from "boxy but good".

[1]: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/volvo-xc60-moves-to-al... [2]: https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a15340510/volvo-electrifyi... [3]: https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a18725989/driving-on-e-cur...


German here. I once drove an Audi A8 from Hanover to Berlin (while working for a car rental company). It was pretty much 250kph (155 mph) all the way (except where there was a speed limit of course). Definitely an insane experience. My hands were extremely sweaty. Yet I couldn't stop driving that fast. In that type of car, you don't really notice it anyway. But you DO notice it when suddenly another car is getting into your lane, seemingly far ahead, but within a few seconds you're so close that you have to hit the breaks really hard.

It's fun and all and a few years ago I would have hated that type of "paternalism" by Volvo. But now, with self-driving cars around the corner and my own more mature understanding of human fallibility, I would argue that it makes little sense that humans do drive at speeds higher than around what Volvo is aiming at.


You driven like that once, some people drive like that daily. Usually it’s not them causing accidents. Whatever, anyone can be fast in a straight line.


I didn't make a remark about accidents. The scenario I described (the sudden appearance of another car in your lane while you are maybe 70 mph faster) does happen to every driver regardless of how often he/she speeds. It's simply that other drivers often are bad at assessing the speed of an approaching car on the left lane.

The few cars that drive really fast are creating a stressful experience for everyone on the Autobahn.

You can be the world's best fast driver on the German Autobahn with an entire accident-free record, yet you might have caused anxiety and dangerous situations for hundreds of other drivers as "byproduct" of your own driving.

And I am writing that while I do love the Autobahn. I am even a bit shocked that I am now basically ending up arguing for speed limits... :P


> Usually it’s not them causing accidents.

I hear that all the time, do you have a source?


In the current climate regarding the speed limit in Germany? Good luck. It’s from experience, you know, seeing it from the perspective of the fast driver. I know it’s another slogan but driving slower makes one more suspectible to distraction.


There are accidents, but fatality on autobahn about 40% lower than U.S highway.

With that said, I wouldn't really want to do sustained high speed driving anyway due to fuel economy. Going from 100kmh to 180kmh, fuel economy drops by half.


Just out of curiosity, am I the only one that's tried the top speed of every car I've owned? German cars have limiters at 130 or 155mph, and the first time I hit the 130 limiter was a surprise (suddenly lost acceleration, thought I had an engine problem, then realized I just hit the limiter).

Surely I'm not the only one? Intended out of real curiosity


Many places in the USA, passing a cop while hitting the limiter would result in at least a night in jail, instant driver's license loss, and lots and lots of money. The vast majority of Americans cannot afford even a basic speeding ticket, let alone that kind of expense. So no, you aren't the only one, but certainly experiencing that kind of risk is a massively luxurious thing that the vast majority of people cannot afford.

Also not everyone has access to long stretches of highway with little traffic to do this in a way that doesn't endanger other people


Thing is that in Germany there are parts of highways without any speed limits, so OP probably wasn't breaking any laws nor it's "a massively luxurious thing" to speed test your car there (other than owning the car obviously).


"experiencing that kind of risk is a massively luxurious thing that the vast majority of people cannot afford"

That seems a strange way to characterise breaking the law.


If you have enough money or resources there are plenty of laws you can afford to break.


You wouldn't say that Musk being fined $20 million by the SEC were luxurious though.


what does poor people not being able to afford to get speeding tickets have anything to do with this conversation? should the OP not drive his car in the way that he wants to because of the price of speeding tickets?

should people in wyoming, with access to long stretches of highway with little traffic, not be able to drive their vehicles in the way they want to because manhattan doesn't have highways and has lots of traffic?

seems to me like you're trying to shame OP and make him feel bad for some reason, but I can't figure out why.

whats your point?


The only reason to go fast is for thrills. Going fast is dangerous to other people, hence: fuck you, go slower. I don't care what situation you pull from your ass to give a counterexample, 99.99% of people driving over the speed limit by more than 10-20 are driving dangerously.


In vein of your reply, I'll simply say "Stay out of the left lane." The VAST majority of collisions I've seen which involved a driver exceeding the speed limit were caused by people erratically impeding traffic by cutting them off in the left lane. When I say "I've seen", I mean "I've personally witnessed". It happens constantly in traffic here, and it's usually someone doing 50 in a 70 cutting into the left lane in front of someone doing 80, without bothering to look.

You'd blame the "aggressive" driver doing 80, when it fact this is 99% the fault of the slower driver.

I see slow drivers in the left lane CONSTANTLY, and it irritates me both as someone who drives faster, and someone who understands basic principles of driving and statistics.

If you want to drive slow, fine, go for it, but do it in the right-hand lane.

The amount of traffic collisions and fatalities from speed would be drastically reduced if people in the US just drove like decent people. We have a much higher rate of fatalities than even on the Autobahn, because of people impeding the flow of traffic and generally failing to signal intent before making erratic movements much too slow.


I'd add to that -- always expect to be cut off in the left lane. If you expect other drivers to drive safely, you'll eventually pay the price. USA drivers and the whole are under trained and overly distracted.

I saw a near collision this weekend when someone in a BMW was driving significantly faster than traffic, and a pickup driver not paying attention ran out of road when the right-lane ended, so he cut off an 18 wheeler in the middle lane. The ~55mph 18 wheeler immediately moved into the left lane... He apparently didn't see or didn't care about the ~85mph BMW and cut him off, so the BMW ended up slamming on the brakes to avoid rear-ending the truck, I could smell the burning rubber from his tires when I caught up to them.

The whole thing could have been avoided if the BMW driver had a little more situational awareness - I saw the pickup's lane was ending while he was alongside the 18 wheeler and was already slowing down since I was afraid it wouldn't end well.


About a year ago, I was driving in the far right lane going 80MPH at 2AM in the morning. Wife and baby child were sleeping in the car. In my rear view, I see a car flying up. He was in an express lane. No clue why, but as he catches up, he cuts over the solid white line separating the express lane, then the far left lane, and finally passes me in the middle lane. This idiot was going about 130-140MPH. I was absolutely livid and the only thing that stopped me from chasing him down was my wife and son.

So stop with this b.s. I'd much rather drive on a road with someone drive slower than an asshole who thinks everyone is going to slow. People weaving through traffic, going 80, 90, 100MPH while everyone else is doing 65, are FAR more dangerous, than the elderly driver doing 60 in the far left.


Your entire post here was blaming the drivers going the speed limit by using anecdotal evidence and claiming that speeders are not the dangerous ones. In other words: complete bullshit.


> Going fast is dangerous to other people

Depends on where you are. If you're on private property or a track (lots of them open to the public), you're only a danger to yourself.

OP didn't say he was on a public roadway when he hit the limiter.


>I don't care what situation you pull from your ass to give a counterexample

Very few people are in that position and I don't give a crap about their "needs" on the track.


I'm not pulling it from my ass. There are a lot of people who take their cars out on the track, I know quite a few that have. Just because it happens outside your bubble doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

You're being unnecessarily rude and confrontational, which isn't justified despite you thinking you have the moral high ground.


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I never said I oppose limiters in cars. I have one in my vehicle I have not removed.

> I'm trying to protect lives with very little impact to things that matter

I don't see what you're doing to protect lives by commenting on HN.

Stop throwing around that 0.01% stat you made up. More than 1 in every 10,000 people take their car to a track day at least once in their lifetime.


> The only reason to go fast is for thrills.

Or, you know, to get where you're going faster. Driving faster adds up over long distances.


I have not tested the top speed of my Nissan LEAF (little point) nor my 60s Mustangs (lap belts only and they get really "floaty" at high normal highway speeds), but let's just say that I have a really good idea of the top speed of the other cars I've owned.


I've found the top speed in every car I've owned. 145 in a 2.4L turbo Volvo 855 (limited), 130 in a 2.2L Toyota Camry (limited), and 105 in a 1.5L Mazda2 (wind resistance). At this rate my next car will max out around 90.


I do on the race track. There are a lot of HPDE and other types of driving schools where you can safely test the limits of you and your car's abilities. They are not that expensive. At first, that is ;-)


I hit the limiter on my X5 at 145mph. It was jarring as it was really smooth right up to that point.


Same here. Hit the 210km/h limiter on my german car and was surprised at how abrupt it was.


Any enthusiast wishing to operate their vehicle closer to the engineering limits will most likely flash the ECU anyway (or simply not purchase the vehicle if you lock them out via DRM). On top of that, I drive a 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe (3.8L); the car can reach 140mph or 150mph rather easily, can be found for under $10k.

However, with most vehicles on the road, the tires are more susceptible to failure than the powertrain is to not delivering the speed. (i.e. my all-season, mid-grade tires are only rated to safely operate up to about 130mph). I would expect this from Volvo, and for the people who care it's more of a moot point.


Is there any particular reasoning as to that value? If we assume major highway limits of 70 mph and add an excessive 20-30 mph for passing, that's still a ton of extra lethal kinetic energy.

edit: Apparently even the Autobahn has a recommended speed of 80 mph (I'm aware you can go faster, but then why have a limit at all?)


As I mentioned in another comment, tires with an "S" speed rating go to 112 MPH, while tires with an "H" rating go to 130 MPH. I'm guessing they either downgraded the factory tires or were concerned about lawsuits from owners who installed aftermarket "S" rated tires.


Yeah, I had the same guess. I'll bet their current higher performance models come with fancy Pirellis or something equivalent, and this is a way to reduce cost.


Lower speed rating also usually means lighter construction and a 'harder' compound, both of which reduce cost and improve fuel milage.


Actually it's the opposite I believe, at least for the same family of tires.

Sure there are high efficiency tires with harder compounds and are more efficient.

But if you get the sporty tire from whatever brand the higher speed ratings generally have the less flexible/harder material. The limiting factor being the heat generated from the flexing builds up. So generally a 150 mph rated tire gets less traction, costs more, and is worse when it's cold than a 112 mph rated tire.

So even on a fairly sporty car and tire you are best off getting the lowest rated tire that will accommodate your max speed.


Conceptually that may be true, but it's next to impossible to get performance tires in speed ratings under W and within any particular model it often varies only by 1, rarely 2, speed ratings.


I've got an old Porsche 996 S4, and I can't say it is a fast car. (fun around the corners, but not fast). I had V rated tires which were rated for 150mph. Not silly expensive either for that matter. I've never driven fast enough to need those tires (or even H rated for that matter) but it would irritate me to no end to know the limiter was there.


It's roughly 180 km/h. Your assumption of a 70mph speed limit is based on the US, and it's incorrect. Portions of highways in the US have 85mph speed limits (i70 on the eastern part of Utah comes to mind).


Even then, the difference between 85 and 112 is a rather large one.


Also, while the speed limit on I-40 through Arkansas is nominally 70 or 75, it's not at all uncommon for traffic to be moving at 85-90 MPH.


In Texas 85 is a thing. At that speed, you really don’t see much speeding. Maybe up to 90. And an occasional need to burst up to 100. Many people start feeling uncomfortable at these speeds even in open road conditions.

I think part of it is they also don’t want people to hit the limit often. It’s for egregious drivers. Driving at that speed and suddenly decelerating to a stop is not the safest thing either.


I've done 120 or 130 on the stretch between Wendover and Salt Lake City. Most people go about 90


Heh, yeah, that area is perfect for high speed driving. Mostly perfectly straight, good quality roads, and excellent visibility. There's an annual race in Nevada not too far from there (highway 318) that's the world's fastest road race. Last year someone average 219mph and was doing 4 wheel drifts at over 200 mph on the sharpest (almost straight at normal speeds).

Not bad for a normal highway.


If we took the top end of your excessive figure (i.e. 100mph), the difference in kinetic energy between 112 and 100 is equivalent to the difference in kinetic energy between 0 and 50. Lethal kinetic energy indeed.


I mean, I get by with an EV limited to 88mph (not sure if that's a in-joke or what). It gets to 88 really fast, but can't go faster. Probably saves me a ton of battery and I still cruise or lead on the left lane.

112 is 25% faster, way more lethal. I'm guessing it's 112mi*1.6km/mi = 180kph.


> an EV limited to 88mph

Which one?


Ford Focus EV. Got a massive deal on it back in 2017. Pretty happy with it.


One of the new Deloreans.


With the 1.21 gigawatts packs.


I suspect they decided that 180 kph is the sweet spot of "still significantly more survivable than higher speeds" and "won't prompt much consumer outrage". Though I'm sure there will still be no lack of people raging about Volvo impeding their freedom.


Why would there be consumer outrage? If you're planning to speed past 180kph don't buy a Volvo.

I doubt the Venn diagram of both groups shows much overlap anyway.


As a german:

- A speed limit of 140km/h would be fine for me, although sometimes disappointing when the road is really empty and there's a lot of distance to cover.

- A speed limit of 160km/h would be totally fine for me. Around that +-10km/h is somewhere around the limit that I find comfortable on the Autobahn.

- A limit of 180km/h probably also satisfies most of the other customers, and might be the sweet spot between still being very fast and not losing a lot of customers that would want to go even faster.


There are markets for cars that have higher speed limits. Or none at all


So why THAT limit?


Tires. Manufacturers rate their tires for certain speeds.

https://www.bfgoodrichtires.com/tires-101/tire-basics/about-...

Many cars use S-rated tires and that's the 112mph limit. It's all about liability.

Sports cars usually use higher speed ratings, whereas a truck or van might be limited ~ 100mph. They typicaly have off-road or tires with higher towing capabilities which have lower speed ratings.


It's reasonable enough to make any higher limit unreasonable, while still being high enough for fast drivers. German cars are usually limited to 250 km/h. With this new, still high limit from Volvo, the German manufacturers now have to justify why their own limit is so high.


"Because the customers want that, and won't buy a car that is limited that low, possibly out of principle."

And good luck getting politicians to push them to do otherwise.


If I were automaker I'd consider allowing bursts above the maximum speed limit for a few seconds.

I'm not a fan of limiting (besides for warranty, electronics reasons) and prefer to educate rather than restrict. However, if taking this approach I believe you should consider that some people might drive in the limit and they deserve to be in power of their vehicles regardless.

Imagine if you drive near this software-limited speed and suddenly need to speed up a little bit more to avoid a dangerous situation. You simply can't. This may dangerous specially if you don't have in your mind that your speed is limited by software.

Just allow breaking out of this limit for, say, 5s so your drivers can get out of a dangerous situation instead... And if they try to abuse the system, disappoint them by blocking acceleration.


In all of my 32 years of driving and over many many miles I've had exactly one situation where acceleration helped me avoid an accident and it wasn't anywhere near the local speed limit. On the way to visiting another HN user I was about to turn left and looking into the low sun waiting for a vehicle that was barely visible to pass. Then I moved across the lane and another vehicle appeared quite close behind the previous one. Because of staring into the sun for too long waiting for the first one I had developed a really nice blind spot for the second car to hide in. It wasn't visible to me until it was almost on top of me. That's the only time that a large engine ever made a difference (and I'd never really floored it all the way in city traffic before but that was impressive). All the other times it was the brakes that saved the day.


Regarding sudden acceleration (and it's a good time to remember acceleration isn't speed) avoiding accidents...

I live in Brazil. There is a tax supposed to cause road accidents here. If your powertrain is > 1.0, the tax you pay when buying cars has a sudden increase. Therefore, many if not most people buy 1.0 cars here (). This is valid even for some that are not consider lower end here (though would be anywhere else in the civilized world).

It's actually the most common type of crash on highways here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3907522/

Anyways, one great reason of accidents here is frontal collisions. People either don't take into account that they are driving snails, not cars, and try to take over on the road but fail to do so at an adequate distance.

The thing is if you are at, say, 80km/h it gets really hard to increase your speed 5 or 10km/h in short amount of time. I believe that people driving powerful cars don't think about this often, and all it takes is an idiot to tailgate you while you are trying to take over to make shit happens. Another unfortunate thing is that you might find yourself tailgating the vehicle upfront before taking over it to reduce the needed distance.

* highways here are usually one lane each way most times. Sometimes two. I love when I go to southern California for work, and there are 12 lanes with almost no traffic (yes, traffic here is worse than there).

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/tables/01.pdf


> If your powertrain is > 1.0, the tax you pay when buying cars has a sudden increase.

What do you mean? Engine displacement>1L? Transmission overdrive? Something else?


Engine displacement > 1L (in fact, > 999cm³).

Not sure if these values are still valid, but if they are not they should be even worse nowadays.

Made in Brazil: < 1L: 30.6% 1L to 2L - 34.6 or 36.6% (gas + ethanol) > 2L - 41.6% or 48.6% (gas + ethanol)

Imports: < 1L: 60,6% 1L to 2L - 64,6% or 66,6% (gas + ethanol) > 2L - 71,6% or 78,6% (gas + ethanol)

Also, immediate availability is lower and most cars are manual with no cruise control :(

And obviously you'd already be paying a little bit more for a more powerful engine, so the increase is actually at least 10%, and most lower income people just get stuck with 1.0 for their whole lives...

https://www.noticiasautomotivas.com.br/automovel-recolhe-de-...


I have absolutely been in a situation where acceleration was the deciding factor (apart from quick reflexes) in avoiding a crash.

However, it certainly was not at highway speeds. There's simply no reason to need to go faster than 180kmh on public roads.


Meanwhile, I find that acceleration has helped me to avoid accidents numerous times in my ~17 years driving. Everybody has different experiences.


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I struggle with people that think driving fast makes them safer drivers. And I've never seen any data supporting that claim.


He told acceleration, not speed. Maybe his reflexes are just good.


At 112mph you’re traveling 54 yards (50 meters) per second.

There’s no situation that can be solved by increasing speed at this velocity. You simply won’t have the time to react. Unless, of course, you’re trying to outrun a train in a car chase in a movie.


You say that now, but when the old wooden bridge is out and the revenuers are hot on your tail, you'll curse the day you bought a car that was limited to only 112mph.


You might need to escape a tsunami, pyroclastic flow, forest fire, or hurricane. The road might not go in the ideal direction, so being just a bit faster might not be enough.


That sounds like an unrealistic fantasy that's fun to watch in the movies, but not likely in real life. Driving 130mph in a storm or forest fire is more likely to result in you running off the road (or into another fleeing vehicle) than getting to safety.

But if this is your fear, you should probably drive an off-road motorcycle so you have more options to get out of town when the disaster strikes, limiting yourself to the roads sounds risky.


> not likely

But it is an edge case.


These are not edge cases.

- In a forest fire or in a storm visibility is low, so you wouldn’t be able to drive at speeds over 112mph anyway (see any footage of people driving through forest fires).

- A tsunami’s speed doesn’t exceed 20-30 mph on land

- a pyroclastic flow moves at 100kmh (62 mph)

In any case these edge cases do not outweigh the lives (potentially) saved by capping a car’s speed.


Suppose the road leading you to safety is not direct. It is at an angle, for example 70 degrees away from the desired direction. You'll need to exceed 112 MPH to outrun that pyroclastic flow.

To escape the tsunami, you first have to drive down a road that runs along the beach. After doing that for a while, you may then turn onto a road that takes you away from the ocean.

Visibility is usually fine in a storm. Hurricanes have intermittent periods of severe rain and insignificant drizzle. Forrest fire visibility all depends on the wind direction, and is often fine if you aren't already surrounded.


Too many “suppose”s.

At speeds over 100kmh (62 mph) you gain only 36 seconds or less per 10 kmh (6.2 mph) of speed increase per 10 km (6.2 miles) of distance.

So, you need to be in a dire situation, already traveling at top speed, on a road that doesn’t lead away from danger, where ~30 seconds of time would make a difference.

That’s a lot of ifs and edge cases.

When reality usually looks like this: https://youtu.be/coPW6unxeY8 (a three-point turn before tsunami) or this: https://youtu.be/7J6O4HkKxlo (driving through a forest fire)


There are lots of highly unlikley edge cases that one could come up with... like seeing a crashing aircraft approaching you from behind and if you could only go 5 mph faster you could stay ahead of it before it strikes the ground, while if you go slower, you'll be hit by it or its debris trail or slam into the debris.


Sorry, i don't know how to put that politely, but it's fucking ridiculous. There is NO SITUATION ever where a speed of 180 kph is necessary to avoid an accident. Life is not a Marvel movie.


If I were automaker I'd consider allowing bursts above the maximum speed limit for a few seconds. ... Imagine if you drive near this software-limited speed and suddenly need to speed up a little bit more to avoid a dangerous situation. You simply can't. This may dangerous specially if you don't have in your mind that your speed is limited by software.

But imagine that you had this 5 second burst and you used it to pass a truck, but you misjudged and you actually needed 6 seconds so your car drops back down to the slower speed, that sounds worse.

I doubt my car can go much over 90mph on a flat road (if it can, it'll take it a while to get there, since even getting to 80 is slow), and I've never had a case where I felt a burst of 100mph speed would get me out of danger.


I see a lot of commentary on break quality and stopping distance.

Those things matter, but not as much as reflex response time, which is mostly a fixed constant for most people.

Going faster means you travel further before even getting to the brakes.


We already have systems that can read speed signs. What I'd like to see is image recognition systems that recognize a school bus and when it is stopped.

Couple of times a year I see drivers blowing by a school bus as kids are getting off and trying to cross the street right in front of them. Be nice if the car decided for the driver that it was stopping.


Off topic, but neat speedometer trick.

Preconditions:

* You have an analog speedometer which is in both miles and km/h. [1]

* You are on a road trip on a highway, driving at or near 100km/h.

In Canada on the 400 class highways, both are often true.[2]

The trick is simple. It must be, I figured it our when I was a kid looking of my father's shoulder while he drove.

Notice how 100km/h nearly aligns with 60 mph on the speedometer? You can use the mph gauge as the approximate number of minutes required to travel a given distance in km.

Say you just saw a sign saying a rest stop was in 42 km.

To estimate the time to your rest stop, just line up 42 km/h with the corresponding number on the mph scale, which in this case gives about 27 min.

[1] http://www.storiesfromschoolaz.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/0...

[2] I drive at 110 because the trucks drive at the same speed, so you don't have to pass as often.


Bummer for track folks.

It's easy to get a new set of rubber that has a speed rating higher than what the factory provided; It's a lot more difficult for a layman to flash out a speed limit.

It's a shame that less and less companies are producing products that take into account that perhaps the potential buyer might actually know better.


In Japan, the Nissan GTR unlocks the speed limiter when it detects it at a race track: https://gizmodo.com/nissan-gt-r-detects-when-car-is-on-a-rac...


I feel like if you're putting higher rated tires on it, and plan to be doing over 112 mph you can also bypass the limiter.


This article mentions geofencing for schools/hospitals: https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/4/18246665/volvo-top-speed-l...

I'm guessing this could be extended to tracks (in the other direction).


No one is taking these Volvos to the track. Do they even make something that'd be worth tracking anymore?


Which is practically no-one, to within experimental error.


Just buy a tuner and remove the limiter. If you're taking the car on the track you probably have a tuner already anyway.

Limiters are nothing new.


I would love if all cars had a cruise speed mode where I could say, I want the top speed to be 60, and it never goes faster.

The difference here is that I would choose this speed, instead of it being set only by the manufacturer.

It is also OK if the car had both limits, a manufacturer max and a lower max speed configurable by the driver.


Isn't this what cruise control is? Or do you want this to be a hidden limit, say for one's kids' cars?


Cruise control won't hit the brakes if you are going downhill and exceed your set speed. I think he's looking for the latter. Setting it to 60 is probably too low though unless the OP only ever drives in the city. I'm hoping he's not one of those people who immediately shove their way over to the far left lane of the interstate and never move until they suddenly jump across three lanes of traffic at the last second to take their exit.


Recent cars I've owned with computer-controlled manual (or "manumatic") transmissions (Ford SelectShift/PowerShift, Hyundai Shiftronic, etc.) will change gears and do engine braking to keep it in the right speed. Even in my ancient Honda Accord, throttle control is usually enough to keep it within a few MPH of my chosen speed once going 60mph+ on most highways I tend to drive on.


> Cruise control won't hit the brakes if you are going downhill and exceed your set speed.

On an EV it will. Well, it uses the regenerative braking but I could clearly see the flow of regenerative energy going back to the battery while on cruise control and going down a hill. (This was on a Nissan LEAF.)


60 is just an example number.

The point is that it should be configurable by the driver and easy to enable and disable. Like the parking lights.


Oh, this makes more sense. I do agree that 60 is too low, there are definitely scenarios where you'd want to accelerate above 60 for passing situations.


It is offered as "Teen Driver Mode" from multiple manufacturers.

It has features like:

- Maximum speed limiter

- Maximum speed warning

- Audio volume limit

- No seat belt audio mute (i.e. if someone hasn't buckled up, the infotainment unit won't play audio)

- Cannot disable safety features inc.: Stability Control, Traction Control, Daytime Running Lights, Forward Automatic Braking, etc


This is available on cars manufactured by Holden - I rented one a few weeks ago and it let me set a maximum speed on the cruise control.

I actually found this to be far more intuitive than cruise control with a minimum speed, because I just kept my foot constantly depressed on the accelerator, and the car never went above the maximum. But when I needed to slow down slightly, e.g., for a car in front of me, I could lift off the pedal and let the car natually slow down.

Conversely with minimum speed cruise control it always feels to me as if I'm zooming along and constantly need to disable it/etc.


> because I just kept my foot constantly depressed on the accelerator, and the car never went above the maximum

You got it, that's what I want.


> I want the top speed to be 60, and it never goes faster

My (otherwise terrible) 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid did this. It would brake (thereby recharging its battery and improving mileage) whenever the speed went above the cruise-control setting -- usually due to hills, not due to over-zealous automated acceleration.

I suspect most electric and hybrid cars do the same today, but I have no data and have not googled it.


It's called a speed limiter, it's in series in many cars. Don't American cars have it?


What happens when accelerating above that is the only way to avoid a situation nearby? If braking will cause you to be in that bad situation, why not have another option available?


Just be sure you stay in the right-hand lane please.


I've always wondered why the government sets speed limits but then doesn't enforce them on manufacturers. You can solve 99% of speed "crime" by making it illegal to sell a car that can break the speed limit.


maybe because speed limits are arbitrary, inconsistent, and they change. why not just remove speed limits if your goal is to "solve 99% of speed 'crime'"? that's easier and a more consistent solution.


> I've always wondered why the government sets speed limits but then doesn't enforce them on manufacturers.

They hope you will break the speed limit so they can make money, that's why.


This is a strange thing to believe - fines exist for deterrence, not income - the purpose of a fine has failed if it ends up being paid, since it didn't deter the offender!

In the UK, for example, about GBP 80 million in speeding fines are issued each year. The annual police budget is GBP 12.5 billion though, so fines are a tiny 0.64% of that, hardly significant. Having said that, it looks like the road policing budget for 2018-19 is down by a large amount, from the GBP 200 million in 2016, to about GBP 90 million, so the fines would seem to cover most of that... Not sure what to make of that, now?


the (US) government doesn't actually care about setting reasonable speed limits. they knowingly set the limit lower than most people will drive. this generates a lot of revenue for fines and gives police officers yet another justification to pull people over at any time.


Another way of seeing it is that "most people" intentionally drive at a higher speed than the limit is.


Because it's not their responsibility. Also, they would lose so much money if suddenly no one is getting speeding tickets.

There are also groups of car enthusiasts and people that legally race cars and modify cars to squeeze every ounce of performance.


There's also Germany.


In addition to other arguments the ability to go faster than speed limit is quite useful safety feature (and in many jurisdctions it is perfectly legal to do so, when your intent is to prevent collision)


You've never had a track day...

This whole page is filled with "Doesn't apply to me, so go for it", which seems like a really bad rationale to apply to hundreds of millions of people, potentially.


I seriously doubt "hundreds of millions of people" regularly go for a lap in the Nordschleife.


Especially given the mechanical wear, motor racing (Even karting) is a rich man's game


You don't have to be rich to drive on a track. Champ Car (formerly Chump) is racing with very inexpensive vehicles. I did a track day with a sub US$5000 car that was still faster than many others. People take rental cars to track days for a total weekend cost of under $500. Drag racing costs next to nothing for a normal car.


on the one hand, I agree, and it's always scary to see this rationale.

on the other hand, it looks like they are just limiting the speed based on the rating of the stock tires. as long as there's a straightforward (and legal) way to increase/remove the limit when you upgrade the tires, I'm not sure I have a huge problem with it.


I'm not convinced how many tracks will run into this limit, at least on the "lower end" Volvos. My understanding is that tracking is not about high speed, but instead handling.


I've gone over 112mph on every track I've been to, despite handling being important.


I guess that means I've underestimated straight length on the average track. Fair enough


What percentage of the population speeds vs what percentage has track days?

Surely those who have track days can disable the limit or buy a car without it, while the vast majority of "casual speeders" won't be affected by it.

Even 112 is quite high compared to the speed limit in most of the world. 100 would be right, outside Germany.


Yes, I have not had a track day. Most drivers have not had a track day. It’s incredibly expensive and puts a shit ton of wear on your vehicle. For the common man, go karts and rollercaosters are enough.


FYI, I know plenty of "common men" who race cars and bikes. it's not as cheap as going to the movies, but it's not outside the reach of most middle-class workers if they don't have other expensive hobbies.


Honest question: can you remove speed limiters on "track day"?


Some cars use their GPS to enable that yes. I think the Nissan GT-R does that.

It's from 2007: https://www.autoblog.com/2007/12/22/nissan-gt-r-recognizes-t...


Defeating a speed limiter is extremely easy. It's done all the time on German cars, which are sold with a 250 km/h limiter, usually for racing purposes.


98% of drivers won’t do that. Let the racers do as they please.


If you limit it to highway speeds, definitely more than 2% of people will do that.


This made me wonder what the top speed of my current car is (a very modest Škoda Yeti) and it is 111mph :-)


Although 180 km/h looks reasonable, I'm not convinced this kind of solutions is the way to go. Speed limiters are not new and were sold on the idea that are improving the efficiency of the engine, burning the fuel better. To do the same thing in regard to safety however, is a bit humiliating or at least patronizing. People already are required to jump through non-trivial hoops in order to legally get behind the driving wheel and all that is to make sure they fully understand the implications of driving a high speed vehicle and accept the implied responsibility. We already took care of setting the proper speed limits through road regulations on the society level, and we do further limit those speeds by choice on the individual level on each driving session. This artificial limitation from the automakers is more akin to fearmongering based marketing stunt, something not derived from rational discernment but from tackling one's lizard brain fears.


I don't think it's fearmongering, especially when you consider that children are allowed to drive (at least here in the US, and with minimal training). This isn't about being a nanny state or keeping folks from driving fast cars (I imagine there will always be cars you can take on the track), it's about keeping everyone on the roads safer. Not one single time in my highway driving life have I encountered a NEED to drive that fast in any traffic maneuver. People die in high speed crashes all the time, I don't think anything about this decision is fearmongering, it's about the health and safety of those around you.


This is exactly the kind of argument I tried my best to prevent when I said that we already have speed limitation both on the society level and on individual one. You may rise the bar for the amount of training required for children in the US, you may restrict the speed capacity of the vehicles they'd be allowed to drive, you may disallow them to enter the kitchen for the fear of knives that they might find in there, you may even keep them in the leash until you'll deem them ready for the world out there (if ever), there are a lot of options that would address the problem a more localized manner instead of some global restriction "just in case". I'm not talking about the specific limit Volvo has chosen for their cars, because for the most part, the specs of the cars they make are theirs to decide, after all. What I'm talking about is an automaker promoting speed limiting as necessary for safety and about the voices that endorse that as reasonable. If the safety indeed requires an improvement through additional speed limitation, that would have been addressed by the bodies of society whose job is exactly that public safety, and by further adjustment of our driving speed on the individual level, considering the self-preservation instincts (which are supposed to checked along with the rest of one's mental condition prior granting the driving license).


Every decision that restricts people is justified with "it's about the health and safety of those around you". It's not a convincing argument when it's used for everything.

Volvo does it so they can use cheaper tires without being liable.


If it indeed increases the health and safety of those around you, why is this not a valid argument?


cuz a kid doing 112 is fine? it seems like a bit of a straw man to me. but volvo is known for making the safest cars on the road and this continues that trend/perception


Pretty cool, by establishing a top speed standard they could run reliable crash tests for the absolute worst case that the car could experience. Looking forward to the future of "No matter how you drive this car, it won't kill you"


I don't think we'll ever see that in a road car unless we mandate 6 point harnesses, helmets, and HANS devices. No matter how big the crumple zone and how stiff the chassis is, 3 point harnesses allow too much movement and people will still die from neck injuries.


People die every day in car crashes at far slower speeds than that. There's no way to guarantee a car crash won't kill you, even at normal highway speeds.


Plus if speed was really THE main factor, highways would be terribly dangerous. Or they're usually the safest when it comes to accident statistics.

So speed is not the main issue but it's a nice tool when you're a politician or you want to communicate.

For the Autobahn, wiki says:

In 2014, autobahns carried 31% of motorized road traffic while accounting for 11% of Germany's traffic deaths. The autobahn fatality rate of 1.6 deaths per billion travel-kilometres compared favorably with the 4.6 rate on urban streets and 6.5 rate on rural roads.


yeah bad phrasing on my end, knowing the max speed you could interact with a common obstacle (say a highway barrier) could lead to targeting harding to prevent fatalities, as opposed to general harding for all speeds.

Cars could still drive into lakes or off cliffs, but knowing the max speed a car could rear end another car may lead to minor enhancements that could save lives


I guess this could be true for crashing into static objects, but other cars are in motion too and don't have speed limiters.


Even when I was on the Autobahn (in a Volvo S6 no less) my max speed was 108 mph, and most of the time I settled in at 100 mph. But there will definitely be some people pissed off at this, as I saw people clearly going closer to 120 on occasion.


I cleared 150 mph as a teen 'cause the speedometer went that high and part of being in a new car was seeing if you could actually pin the speedometer.

However, that was a very stupid choice, and I'm glad no one got hurt. Outside of a track there is no valid reason to go over 100 mph.


I did 150mph on the Autobahn last year on my motorbike on a straight stretch with three lanes. I thought I’d play it safe and stay in the outside lane in case someone from the inside lane decided to overtake another. Two cars undertook me, albeit very considerately, on the inside lane at considerably higher speeds. At that point I felt defeated and decided to take things a bit easier for the rest of my trip.


I've been in a car doing 120mph on the autobahn once, which was the fastest the Vauxhall Zafira we were driving would go. We had gotten stuck in a traffic jam and were late for our train.

We had a couple of Ferrari's come up on our tail. I've no idea how fast they were going, but it was a fair bit faster than us!


This should be matched with a lowered purchase price, because they're almost certainly going to be equipping cheaper tires w/a correspondingly low speed rating.


This is Volvo we are talking about. They weren't equipping their station wagons with Pirelli tires.


A fine example of segmentation. Most Volvo customers don't buy Volvos because they're fast cars. They buy them because they are safe cars.


Well, there is their Polestar [0] performance division, which suggests there is such a market...?

0. https://www.volvocars.com/uk/cars/new-models/s60/variants/po...


There are quite a few M's compared to regular BMWs. How many Polestars does Volvo sell compared to their regular models?


So my current car tops out at 163MPH (not a Tesla). Being in the Bay Area (a large parking lot is how I would describe the freeways) the chance of every going that fast is zero. It is possible (no admission of guilt) that I may have hit 120MPH once or twice very late at night on the I280. That being said, this limit bugs my libertarian views. The issue is of course all the people in a car that can hit a stupid level of speed (100MPH+), that lack the correct breaks, tires, handling for that stupid level of speed. Drive down the 17. It is a wreakfest of people that drive too fast on winding road without understanding that just because your engine can push does not mean the rest of the important car parts function at that level. The engine tech level in the standard consumer car has hit a possible speed level without effort that is not matched by the other parts of the vehicle. Pair that with someone that thinks, well it can go that fast so it must be okay...


This limit shouldn't bug you at all. If it's voluntary (you buy the car without coercion), there is nothing wrong about it.

disclosure: I'm a hard-core libertarian myself.


Great. Now just make an automatic transmission that's not a pile of junk.


The Ford/GM 10 speed is a heck of a transmission. Porsche has TDM. Anything with dual-clutch can be automatic. Auto transmissions aren't as bad as they used to be.


In a couple years there will be no need for transmissions anymore...


...or steering wheels.


or people


Suddenly can't accelerate because of stupid speed limit -> Death.

Due to this fear, many a person (including myself) will simply never buy one such car.


If one is in a situation on a typical road where accelerating beyond 112MPH is going to cause death, I'm not completely sure that limiting to 112 is the real issue.


Being chased by a psychopathic Volvo driver springs to mind


What car do you have now? Unless it's a high-end vehicle it most likely has a limiter already.


Full disclosure: I don't own a car or a license, nor am I interested in driving.

Doesn't meant I can't understand the concept of accelerating away from danger, or being unable to do so due to a stupid limiter and dying.


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