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Five best-selling vans branded ‘not recommended’ by safety testers

Investigation reveals 12.8% of new vans come with autonomous emergency braking safety technology as standard, compared with 62% of cars...

Fiat Ducato Thatcham safety test

Safety investigations have led to five of the 19 best-selling vans being branded ‘not recommended’ by testers at Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research.

The safety performance of the Fiat Talento, Nissan NV400, Renault Master, Renault Traffic and Vauxhall Movano were all described as “disappointing” following the investigations, which also highlighted that vans are involved in more fatal accidents per mile driven than any other kind of transport.

The ratings were given following an assessment of whether automatic emergency braking (AEB), speed limiter and lane support systems, as well as seat belt reminder technology were fitted and how they performed. Euro NCAP and Thatcham will now test all vans on these safety criteria annually.

The investigations highlighted that just 12.8% of new vans come with AEB as standard, compared with 62% of cars. AEB's development and widespread use is believed to have significantly reduced the number and severity of car accidents in recent years.

Renault Master 2020 RHD rear tracking

Matthew Avery, Thatcham's Director of Research, said: “This first batch of test results show the fitment of crucial safety technology on vans is woefully low. It’s a serious issue that needs addressing urgently, particularly with van numbers increasing and the continued surge in demand for home deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic and before Christmas.

“There is a definite lack of parity between the levels of collision avoidance technology on vans compared with cars. Modern cars have lots of driver aids as standard, but vans have barely any. Some brands are making a clear decision not to fit this important technology as standard and van operators are not even taking up fitment as a cost option.

“The lack of parity even exists within the same manufacturers. Take Nissan, for example. Its five-star-rated Juke has lots of standard fit Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology that can save lives. But its NV400 van has no collision avoidance technology as standard.

“These findings show vehicle manufacturers are withholding critical safety technology from their vans. It’s a ridiculous situation because the systems already exist and could be fitted if they wanted them to be.”

Vauxhall Movano front action picture

New legislation will require all new vans to be fitted with certain advanced driver assistance systems by 2024, but Thatcham is pushing manufacturers to meet or exceed standards prior to the regulatory requirement.

Of the 19 vans tested, only the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Vito and Volkswagen Transporter were awarded the top ‘Gold’ ranking.

Responding to the criticism, a Renault statement read: “Safety is of the utmost importance in the development of all our vehicles. We have developed vans that offer passive and active safety features that meet the requirements of our professional customers and are compliant with all market regulations where they are sold. In the UK, a number of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features are offered as an option.  We continuously monitor our line-up to improve our products as well as the satisfaction and safety of our customers.”

Fiat declined to comment.

Nissan and Vauxhall have not responded to a request from What Car? to explain the test results at the time of writing.

2020 Commercial Van Safety Ratings

Gold rating

Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 - 65%
Ford Transit 2T - 63%
Mercedes Vito - 61%

Silver rating

Ford Transit Custom - 58%
Mercedes Sprinter - 52%
Volkswagen Crafter - 44%
Peugeot Expert - 44%
Vauxhall Vivaro - 42%

Bronze rating

Citroen Dispatch - 37%
Toyota Proace - 35%
Peugeot Boxer - 33%
Citroen Relay - 32%
Iveco Daily - 30%
Fiat Ducato - 28%

Not recommended

Renault Master - 16%
Nissan NV400 - 12%
Renault Trafic - 11%
Vauxhall Movano - 7%
Fiat Talento - 5%


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