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New Fiat Ducato scores top marks in van safety assessment

2022 Fiat Ducato

The new Fiat Ducato van has been awarded the first ‘Platinum’ rating by Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research, for its safety and driver assistance systems.

The independent rating programme was introduced last year to highlight the lack of safety-critical equipment that is available on new vans, compared with new cars.

Scores are based on the availability of emergency braking, speed limiter, lane support, and seatbelt reminder systems, as well as the performance of active safety technology. The tests do not include crash protection.

Fiat is the first van maker to score a Platinum rating, with the new Ducato achieving an 88% score in tests. Prior to its latest facelift, the Ducato secured a Bronze rating, with a score of 28% in 2021.

The 60% score increase was attributed to the all-round strong performance of the new Ducato’s AEB and speed assistance systems, as well as its improved lane support capability, with the addition of Lane Keep Assist (LKA) which helps steer the van back into its lane.

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research’s chief research strategy officer, said: “Fiat has completely raised the bar this year and we welcome the brand’s response to our calls for improved safety on vans. To jump 60% from one assessment to the next is very impressive and we congratulate the brand for achieving the world’s first Platinum rating.

“It is also good news that this Platinum rating has been achieved by a shared van platform within the Stellantis Group. The Ducato’s performance has the potential to benefit a huge chunk of the market because the Vauxhall Movano, Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Relay share the same production platform. We hope the Ducato’s features will be made available on these vans too.”

Results showed that other manufacturers have also reacted positively to calls for improved van safety. Eight other vans increased their score in 2022, with five achieving a higher rating. Ford’s Transit Custom, currently Britain’s best-selling van, moved from the Silver rating band into Gold.

The Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Movano also recorded significant score improvements. The Trafic, which was Not Recommended in 2021, scored an additional 34% this time around, thanks mainly to the addition of AEB and lane support technology. This earned it a Silver rating. The Movano meanwhile, increased its score from 7% to 33%, elevating it from Not Recommended to Bronze.

The worst Commercial Vans Safety Rating performer in 2022 was the Nissan Interstar (formerly the brand’s NV400 model). With very little safety equipment – including AEB – available as an option, the Interstar scored 18% and was therefore the only van among the 19 tested to be handed a Not Recommended rating.

The Interstar shares the same platform as the Bronze-rated Renault Master, so Avery was disappointed to see Nissan has not followed Renault’s lead in offering a safety-critical AEB system.

“This is a great example where a manufacturer, in this case Nissan, has decided to dismiss the value of a critical safety feature and put marketing before engineering,” he explained. “That’s disappointing and doesn’t reflect the good safety performance of the brand’s passenger cars.

“The 2022 results clearly show fleet operators and business owners which vans they should be choosing. Specifying ADAS technology has a value. It can help prevent an expensive vehicle being off the road for repairs, drivers being off sick, and any reputational damage that can be caused to a company after an accident. ADAS has the power to keep businesses moving and delivering for their customers.”

Euro NCAP recently highlighted the best-performing cars from its crash tests in 2021.

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