Only two of the vans tested by Australia’s crash test authority ANCAP have received recommendations.

Fifteen light and medium/heavy commercial vans were put to the test to evaluate their collision avoidance capability.

They included the Toyota Hiace, Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter — but not for some reason the Chinese LDV G10 which now owns a fair chunk of the market.

ANCAP says the comparison tests were spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic which has generated an increase in the use of commercial vans, with a rise in home delivery services and online purchases.

As part of ANCAP’s move three years ago to common test practices in line with Euro NCAP, the organisation introduced assessment of active collision avoidance systems, including low and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane support systems (LSS), speed assistance systems (SAS) and occupant detection systems.

Since then 69 vehicles have been tested and rated by ANCAP, but due to longer life-cycles of commercial vehicles, as well as the current scope of the ANCAP rating system, many of the commercial vans currently on the market remain unrated — or have ratings that pre-date the introduction of ADAS testing.

The current rating system covers passenger vehicles, SUVs and LCVs — up to a gross vehicle mass of 3.5 tonnes

“The results of this new analysis come at an important time,” ANCAP’s Rhianne Robson said.

“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.”

 

While commercial vans do not necessarily have a higher crash rate than other vehicles, ANCAP says crashes in which they are involved tend to be more severe for the other vehicle and vulnerable road users due to their inherent design characteristics that make them more aggressive.

Figures from Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) show commercial vans are 30 per cent more aggressive than the average vehicle fleet, and almost twice as aggressive as Light Cars.

“With the increasing number of van movements, the risk to other road users – in other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists – increases, so it is important fleets and van operators are aware of the heightened risk these vehicles pose to others.”

Only two of the 15 vehicles assessed achieved an overall collision avoidance rating of GOLD – the Toyota HiAce and Ford Transit.

Five scored SILVER ratings, and three a BRONZE.

The Hyundai iLoad, Renault Trafic, Renault Master, Iveco Daily, and even the recently released Mitsubishi Express, have been stamped NOT RECOMMENDED due to their poor active safety specification.

“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,” Robson said.

“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.

“This analysis will now place a spotlight on the previously peripheral segment of the market which has noticeably lagged.

“Regardless of segment or intended use, we urge fleet buyers and consumers to prioritise the purchase and use of vehicles with active safety features.”

A summary of test results can be viewed at www.ancap.com.au/vans.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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