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Euro NCAP turns spotlight on vans

 Published 6th January 2021
Company Fleet  General Guides 

How are your groceries delivered? Most likely by a supermarket delivery van. And what about all those online purchases you make? The list of delivery firms such as DPD, Hermes, the Post Office, and so on most likely adorned many of the vans that turned up outside your door recently.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge driver of growth in the light commercial vehicle sector. While new van registrations are down on the year overall, the SMMT has seen new van registrations accelerating in September, October and November, while the AA reported that the Ford Transit had entered its list of the best selling used cars for the first time during 2020.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars commented: “The entry of the Ford Transit into the best-selling cars of 2020 is a true sign of the times, and a testament to how online deliveries have boomed as the pandemic kept millions of us at home for much of the year.”

While such growth in delivery vehicles is excellent news for business, it means there are more vans on the road, which in turn means the risk of accidents involving vans also increases.

Indeed, it's hard for ‘white van man' to shake off a well-earned reputation that safety is an option best disregarded, with breaking speed limits, inattentive driving and poor maintenance top of the accusation list.

Deserved or not, the reputation does not necessarily result in a higher crash rate than other motor vehicles, but when accidents do happen involving a van, the outcomes tend to be more severe thanks to the size and load of vans meeting a smaller passenger vehicle.

Which is one of the reasons Euro NCAP, the organisation which rates the safety standards of passenger cars with its star system, has introduced a new rating system for light commercial vans.

14 vans receive Euro NCAP award

Under new criteria that prioritises crash avoidance and driver assistance systems, Euro NCAP gave awards to 14 of the 19 vans it tested, covering 98% of European van types on sale.

Euro NCAP says the new ratings encourage wider fitment of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) on commercial vans, and show up differences between brands in the systems' performance and will help fleet operators and business owners to make safer choices. For the benefit of commercial van drivers and all road users, Euro NCAP calls for:

  • Standardisation of safety equipment on commercial vans ahead of the General Safety Regulation which is still some years away
  • Better performance of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) on commercial vans, to match the state-of-the-art technology fitted to cars
  • Fleet operators to take responsibility for the safety of their drivers and to demand a minimum silver-level performance in Euro NCAP's new ranking scheme when making decisions about which van to lease
  • Greater clarity from van manufacturers, on websites and in marketing material, regarding the safety features available on their vehicles.

So which vans won the safety awards? Here's how they were ranked.

Gold van safety award

  • Ford Transit
  • Mercedes-Benz Vito
  • Volkswagen Transporter

Silver van safety award

  • Ford Transit Custom
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
  • Peugeot Expert
  • Vauxhall Vivaro
  • VW Crafter

Bronze van safety award

  • Citroën Relay
  • Citroën Dispatch
  • Fiat Ducato
  • Iveco Daily
  • Peugeot Boxer
  • Toyota Proace


  • Fiat Talento
  • Nissan NV400
  • Renault Master
  • Renault Trafic
  • Vauxhall Movano
  • Toyota Proace

The secretary general of Euro NCAP, Michiel van Ratingen, commented:

“The first thing that struck us was how poorly vehicles in this segment are generally equipped with safety systems. Technology that is now standard on passenger cars is, almost without exception, an option on vans. Not only that but there is a huge lack of clarity about what is available in individual countries, and what functionalities the systems offer. Manufacturers really don't make it easy for people to buy these options and we struggled hard to get hold of vans equipped with the systems we wanted to test.

“So, the results you see represent the absolute best that the vans will perform on the road. In all probability, there are very few vans actually on the road which are as well-equipped as the ones we tested, and that is part of our message today: manufacturers have to start taking the safety of this segment more seriously and fleet buyers should insist on choosing safety options to provide better protection for their drivers and for all road users. We want good-performing safety technology fitted as standard in this segment of the market. Gold award winners Ford, Mercedes-Benz and VW are showing the way.”

Check out the EURO NCAP results

You can see the EUro NCAP van safety results by clicking on this link .

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