Who makes the most safe (and unsafe) commercial vans?

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Words: Matthew Hansen
17 Dec 2020

After years of being neglected relative to their private passenger-car cousins, commercial vans have undergone more rigorous testing with the Australian New Car Assessment Programme, or ANCAP.

The safety advocacy group has confirmed it will test the safety equipment featured in commercial vehicles on an ongoing basis, something it’s never done before. It hasn’t yet committed to putting commercial vehicles through the same actual crash testing procedures as cars just yet. However, vans will now get a rating based on their fitted safety equipment.

Instead of a star rating, vans will get one of four ratings; gold, silver, bronze, or not recommended. Each is rated across six different kinds of active driver assist systems, then given a mark out of 100.

“The results of this new analysis come at an important time,” said ANCAP Director – Communications & Advocacy, Rhianne Robson. “COVID-related lockdowns across Australia and New Zealand have created a surge in demand for delivery services, and as a result, many areas have seen a rise in the number of commercial vans on the road.

“Commercial vans generally operate with higher levels of exposure and hold a much longer economic life-span due to their primary commercial-use and goods-carrying function, and this makes their active safety capability arguably even more critical than that of passenger cars.

“ANCAP’s influence over the passenger vehicle and SUV segments has seen a marked improvement in safety specification over the years – with great gains made with the fitting of active collision avoidance systems, and this analysis will now place a spotlight on the previously peripheral segment of the market which has noticeably lagged.”

As part of its announcement, ANCAP promptly crash tested 15 different commercial vans; the Toyota Hiace, Ford Transit, Hyundai iLoad, Mercedes-Benz Vito, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Peugeot Expert, Peugeot Boxer, Volkswagen Transporter, Volkswagen Crafter, Fiat Ducato, Renault Trafic, Renault Master, Mitsubishi Express, and Iveco Daily.

Maybe predictably, the two most popular vans on either side of the ditch — the Toyota Hiace and Ford Transit — led the pack. They topped the field as the only two models to be given a gold rating (although it’s worth noting that the smaller Transit Custom only gets a silver).

At the other end of the scale, ANCAP gave five vans a ‘not recommended’ rating. These were given to the Mitsubishi Express, Hyundai iLoad, Iveco Daily, Renault Trafic, and Renault Master. Most of these poor ratings came down to a lack of active safety tech, including in some cases Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and lane-keep assist.

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