Euro NCAP calls for more van safety systems

Van News | Euro NCAP calls for more van safety systems |
Crash test experts are saying that vans ought to come with more life-saving tech.

Euro NCAP, the independent crash test expert organisation, has just released the latest round of safety results for medium-sized vans. While most of the vehicles tested have performed quite well, the results have led NCAP to call for more standard-fit driver safety aids in light commercial vehicles.

Euro NCAP Gold and Platinum awards

The vans tested were the Citroën Berlingo and its ‘twins’, the Fiat Doblo, the Opel/Vauxhall Combo, and the Peugeot Partner, as well as the Renault Kangoo Van and the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo van. All of these scored a ‘Gold’ safety award from Euro NCAP, which is broadly impressive. More impressive still were the two vans that scored maximum ‘Platinum’ awards—the Mercedes-Benz Citan and the VW ID.Buzz Cargo.

According to Euro NCAP, it’s harder to come by a maximum score for van safety than for passenger car safety because the test for vans is weighted more heavily towards accident avoidance rather than protecting the van’s occupants in the event of an actual crash. Why? According to NCAP’s research, in a collision involving a van, those most likely to get hurt are the occupants of other vehicles or vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

A snapshot of van safety

NCAP says that this latest release of van results is significant, as it gives a snapshot of the safety of small panel vans currently available to businesses before new rules on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) come into effect in the General Safety Regulations (GSR) in July.

“Given that smaller panel vans are often derived from passenger cars, when high-performing equipment is fitted, their drivers can expect an optimum level of safety. Therefore, it is good news that the results achieved in this release are predominantly Gold and Platinum.

“However, Euro NCAP-rated vans with equipment mostly fitted as ‘optional’. What was concerning was the lack of vans equipped with these crash-avoidance technologies on the market. Euro NCAP and its team struggled to source vans fitted with these options for the testing. In the case of the Platinum winners, only the Volkswagen ID.Buzz Cargo has this safety technology fitted as standard; on the Mercedes, it is still a cost option. Van manufacturers often offer safety technologies but rarely encourage buyers to specify this vital equipment that could save lives.

“By making customers pay for extra safety technology without promoting the benefits, safety technology becomes a bargaining tool. There is overwhelming evidence that this safety technology reduces crashes, deaths, and injuries, protecting drivers and other road users, and therefore we believe businesses ignoring these options are failing in their Corporate Social Responsibilities,” said Dr. Aled Wiliams, Programme Director of Euro NCAP.

Smaller vans more likely to have safety tech

In general, NCAP has noted that smaller vans like these are more likely to be fitted with advanced safety systems than their larger brothers, mainly because their platforms and technology are often shared with passenger car models.

According to NCAP: “Advanced driving technologies have been shown to directly impact the safety of drivers, other vehicles, and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, motorbike riders, and cyclists. The range of safety technologies that Euro NCAP expects to be included in vehicles covers advanced autonomous emergency braking technologies (AEB) for car-to-car, pedestrian and cyclist, lane support systems, speed assistance, and attention assist. Despite the good results, there is still further progress to be made. For example, the Citroën Berlingo and its twins performed particularly poorly in AEB cyclist protection.”

The organisation has said that the incoming GSR regulations will compel van makers to fit more safety systems as standard. However, NCAP will continue to: “insist manufacturers deliver beyond legislation to ensure the industry meets Vision Zero targets with performance much higher than the GSR targets.”

The call for improved van safety will doubtless be redoubled when Euro NCAP launches the results of ADAS safety performance tests of larger vans in July.

Published on April 13, 2024 Written by