Volvo is launching a built-in breathalyser that will stop a car from starting if the driver is over the alcohol limit.
The system, called Alcoguard, will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week and will be available as an accessory on several models in the UK from next year.
Alcoguard uses the same “fuel-cell” technology as most European police forces. Before the car can be started, the driver has to blow into a wireless hand-held unit. The results are analysed and transmitted by radio to the car’s electronic control system.
The preset limit is 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to meet Swedish law but Volvo dealers can alter the setting to the UK limit, 80mg per 100ml of blood. If the blood-alcohol limit is exceeded, a red light will appear and the engine will not start.
Alcoguard will be available in the UK on the Volvo S80, V70 and XC70 in early 2008 and will be extended to other models later in the year.
Volvo technical project manager David Nilsson says: “We have aimed to create as convenient and user-friendly a solution as possible. The easier it is to use, the greater the number of people who will use it.”
Volvo says Alcoguard is a supporting device and that it is up to the driver to make decisions based on the information it provides.
For emergency situations, or if the unit is lost, there is a bypass function.