W e can assume that Volvo board member Håkan Samuelsson bought his marketing team a round of cold drinks this week. At least. They managed to get the brand talking about the Geneva Motor Show, even though not a single Volvo is exhibited at the fair. How it works? Well, you focus on what the brand has always stood for. For security. Talks about the dangers of alcohol and distraction at the wheel, then focuses on the subject of high speeds in the finale. In other words, from 2020 all new Volvo cars will be delivered with a top speed limited to 180 km /h. And already it simmers. In all directions. Analysts, professors, do-gooders, fans and trolls. Shock, excitement, anger. Everything included.
We are the exception to the rule
However, there is not much left of that when all the gunpowder smoke has cleared. But you have to accept that Volvo is not a foundation or a non-profit association, but a company with the intention of making a profit. And if you as a company want to successfully sell the products of your various brands, then you need clear positioning. Worldwide. And then it becomes a bit painful for the second time, especially for the self-image of German buyers. We are no longer the center of the world for Volvo. Volvo, driven by the Chinese parent company Geely, basically thinks on a global scale. And it simply makes no sense to develop vehicles that drive faster than 180 km /h. Because wherever Volvo wants to sell cars, there are either strict speed limits or legal requirements that prohibit top speeds beyond 180 things. Except in Germany. Volvo will save itself the trouble of making vehicles fit for the speed range between 180 and 250 km /h with a lot of effort. And avoiding additional expenses is good for the return.
Security fits the brand
To construct a reproach against the Swedes from this would be simply wrong. Because regardless of the cost effect, the step fits perfectly with Volvo's safety philosophy. Stefan Bratzel, Director of the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) comes to a similar assessment in Spiegel: 'This is a symbolic gesture that corresponds to the safety image of the Volvo brand'. Volvo will use it less to scare off its inherently safety-conscious customers than to gain new buyers.
TheModel range leads the way
That leaves a look at ecology and efficiency. Here too, Volvo's step is only logical. Very high travel speeds are inextricably linked with diesel or large-volume gasoline engines. Volvo has long since said goodbye to both. The last Volvo diesels will retire in 2023 at the latest and behind the wheel of a small four-cylinder petrol engine that has been squeezed to the limit, the left lane at 220 km /h is only so limited fun. The focus of Volvo’s strategy is on plug-in hybrids and fully electric drives, which, following the global trend, are installed primarily in SUV and crossover models. Disadvantage of the SUV layout: A comparatively large frontal area and large wheels, which ultimately leads to less record-breaking drag coefficient. As a result, the air resistance increases, which, especially in the case of purely electric vehicles, costs range at higher speeds. Incidentally, a higher speed means 100 km /h, because the air resistance increases with the square of the speed. In other words: double speed means quadruple air resistance.
Speed is just one of many problems
ROI, brand essence and efficiency. Seems like Volvo got it right, right? Nearly. Because high speeds, which represent a safety risk for Volvo, do not play a major role in the causes of accidents with personal injury. Accidents when turning, reversing and maneuvering a parking space are much more decisive in this regard. In order to argue correctly, however, one also has to say that accidents caused by unsuitable speeds continue to have the worst consequences: In 2017, an average of 24 people were killed in 1,000 accidents. In all accidents there were eleven fatalities per 1,000 accidents (source: Federal Statistical Office ). Which brings us back to the middle of the German discussion about a general speed limit . But that's a completely different topic again.