Remember when a car meant freedom?
Motor Trend|October 2020
Remember when a car meant freedom?
''If the car was invented today and we said this consumer product will improve mobility and productivity, but … it will kill 33,000 people a year in America, do you think the government would approve it for sale?”
Angus MacKenzie

Volvo senior safety engineer Thomas Broberg’s its decision to restrict the top speed of all its vehicles to 112 mph.

I first came across this institutional mindset 30 years ago, when I interviewed Pehr Gyllenhammar, author, economist, lawyer, and, at the time, chairman of the board of AB Volvo. “We are not a luxury car producer,” declaimed Gyllenhammar bluntly. The smiles of the Volvo PR flacks became instantly fixed, brittle. The color drained from their faces. The Volvo chairman was happy to elaborate: “We design cars with high specification, but we are not in the luxury class as we define it, that is competing on price levels with the more expensive Mercedes-Benz and BMW models.”

Gyllenhammar didn’t care about the auto industry’s sacred cows. I left the interview trying to imagine GM’s Roger B. Smith suggesting private vehicles be banned from traffic-choked inner-city streets, or BMW’s Eberhard von Kuenheim wondering out loud how governments could continue to allow ordinary, unskilled citizens to control a piece of equipment as complicated as a car.

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October 2020