Volvo decides speeding is no longer in its philosophy, with a self-imposed 180km/h limit on all its cars. Picture: SUPPLIED
Volvo decides speeding is no longer in its philosophy, with a self-imposed 180km/h limit on all its cars. Picture: SUPPLIED

Swedish premium brand Volvo has stunned the Geneva motor show without even showing up, simply by announcing it would impose a 180km/h speed limit on all its cars by 2020.

Germany’s carmakers agreed long ago to a voluntary limit of 250km/h, though this can often be raised with better tyres and other tweaks to 260km/h, 280km/h or even beyond 300km/h.

Volvo’s own XC90 SUV has a claimed top speed of 212km/h.

Yet no country in the world bar Germany and parts of Australia’s Northern Territory allows drivers to travel at 180km/h, which poses the question of how Volvo arrived at its speed limit.

“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, to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction,” said Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson.

“We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.”

Samuelsson’s reasoning is that Volvo wants to reduce the number of crashes where speed is a contributing factor – though nobody in Europe has yet to die in a crash in one of its new-generation Volvos.

The move puts a question mark over its Polestar subbrand, which is supposed to be a high-performance electric car franchise. Its cars will be speed-limited when its rivals aren’t.

There are other moves afoot from Volvo, too, including geolocating high-risk areas like schools or pedestrian zones and automatically slowing cars to the speed limits.

It is also planning to monitor driver behaviour to ensure they aren’t distracted with cellphones or driving under the influence of alcohol.

 

GHOSN GRANTED BAIL

A Tokyo court on Tuesday granted bail to Carlos Ghosn, the ousted chairman of Nissan Motor Co who is fighting charges of financial misconduct, after more than three months in detention, Ghosn's lawyer said.

Since his November arrest Ghosn has lost his perch atop an automotive alliance trio of French car maker Renault and Japanese automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi. Picture: REUTERS
Since his November arrest Ghosn has lost his perch atop an automotive alliance trio of French car maker Renault and Japanese automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi. Picture: REUTERS

Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that bail for Ghosn, who has been has been in custody at a detention centre in Tokyo, was set at 1-billion yen (R127m), and that he could be released as early as Tuesday.

Ghosn has been in custody since his initial arrest in late November over allegations he underreported his compensation at Nissan for nearly a decade through 2018. He also has been charged with aggravated breach of trust.

The former chairman of Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors Corp and France's Renault SA has denied wrongdoing.

The court decision comes a day after the head of Ghosn's newly appointed legal team said he was optimistic the detained executive could win bail with a promise to submit to surveillance.

Ghosn must remain in Japan under his bail conditions.

 

LOAD SHEDDING SLOWS SA CAR SALES

As load-shedding rocked consumer and business confidence in February, new vehicle sales in SA continued to shed volume. Industry sales declined 3,016 units compared to February 2018 according to the National Automobile Association of SA (Naamsa).

Sales ended the month on 43,251 units, 6.5% down on the figure for the previous February.

Passenger cars took the brunt of the SA market’s dip last month, declining 13.3% compared to February 2018. Picture: SUPPLIED
Passenger cars took the brunt of the SA market’s dip last month, declining 13.3% compared to February 2018. Picture: SUPPLIED

“While we expect first-half sales to be slow, the market was no doubt rattled by the week-long impact of load-shedding at the beginning of the month, which impacted consumer and business confidence,” says Ghana Msibi, WesBank executive head of motor. “Reassuringly, however, February sales were up on January's despite fewer selling days.

Passenger vehicle sales took the brunt of the market’s performance, dropping 13.3% to 27,000 cars. Having showed more resilience over the past few months than passenger cars, Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) sales increased 7.1% to 14,123 vehicles.

Medium trucks at 662 units were up 14.3% on the same month last year, and heavy trucks at 1,466 units showed an 8.0% gain.

The total market was down 7% on the first two months of last year.

The Toyota Hilux was again the country’s most popular vehicle with 3,504 units sold last month, ahead of the VW Polo Vivo (2,692), Ford Ranger (2,578) and Nissan NP200 (1,999). The VW Polo dipped to 1,605 sales, from 2,512 the previous month.

 

AUDI GOES ALL-ELECTRIC AT GENEVA

In a first for Vorsprung durch Technik, the Audi stand at the 2019 Geneva motor show will be exclusively occupied by electrically-powered models.

The world premiere of the Q4 e-tron concept and the European reveal of the e-tron GT concept lead the charge of battery-powered Audis that will be rolled out in series production form by the end of 2020.

The e-tron GT concept, jointly developed with Porsche, will be one of the more exciting iterations of Audi’s electric-car strategy. Picture: SUPPLIED
The e-tron GT concept, jointly developed with Porsche, will be one of the more exciting iterations of Audi’s electric-car strategy. Picture: SUPPLIED

In addition four new plug-in hybrid models will also make their debuts, and the world of Formula E racing will be represented by the latest Audi e-tron FE05 racing car.

Audi management board chair Bram Schot says: “We have set ourselves a clear goal – one in three new Audi vehicles sold will have electrified drive in 2025 already. Because we are pursuing a clear vision we are committing ourselves to emission-free mobility.”

Deliveries of the Audi e-tron, the first member of this new quartet of electric vehicles, are set to begin soon. The series-production version of its coupé equivalent, the Audi e-tron Sportback, will be introduced later in 2019. Another electric car – the Audi Q2 L e-tron - will be presented in a few weeks in China and will reach its first customers in that market in 2019. Two further series-production debuts will then follow in 2020: the Audi e-tron GT and Audi Q4 e-tron. Concept cars on the stand in Geneva provide a look at these two future models.

Before this, in 2019, a brand plug-in offensive involving virtually all market segments will take place. New to the range are hybrid versions of the high-volume product lines Audi A6, A7, A8 and Q5, which are also making their public debut in Geneva.

Fast charging with up to 150 kW and a range suitable for long-distance journeys promise full everyday use.

Audi will also greatly expand its range of plug-in hybrid automobiles. “In the future, virtually every market segment will include models powered by a combination of an electric motor and a combustion engine and that can be charged at an electric outlet,” says Schot.