Euro NCAP has rated as many as 19 light commercial vans for safety, with three awarded “gold” and five listed as “not recommended”.

The safety authority’s latest criteria prioritise crash avoidance and driver assistance systems. The vans were tested in accordance with the Euro NCAP 2018 Safety Assist protocols, which include autonomous emergency braking, lane support, speed assistance and occupant state monitoring.

Euro NCAP says its new ratings “encourage wider fitment” of advanced driver assistance systems on commercial vans. It points out the use of commercial vans “has never been greater or more obvious” thanks to a “significant increase in the need for delivery vehicles” under the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this round of tests, the top achievers were the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Vito and Volkswagen Transporter, which each scored a gold award.

The Ford Transit Custom, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Opel Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and the Volkswagen Crafter, meanwhile, managed silver awards, with the Citroën Jumper, Citroën Jumpy, Fiat Ducato, Iveco Daily, Peugeot Boxer and Toyota ProAce settling for bronze.

And at the bottom of the list? Well, Euro NCAP says the Fiat Talento, Opel Movano, Nissan NV400, Renault Master and Renault Trafic “are not recommended for their general lack of safety systems”.

“Commercial vans are big and heavy compared to passenger cars so, if they crash, they can do a lot of damage and cause serious injuries to others,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP secretary general.

“Nowadays, active safety systems exist which can greatly reduce the likelihood of a collision with other cars, or with pedestrians or cyclists. These technologies are already commonplace on passenger cars but much less widespread on vans. Given the millions of vans on Europe’s roads, increasing the active safety systems fitted to commercial vehicles is key to improving safety for all road users.”

Van Ratingen said he was surprised “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,” he said.