When consumers turned to online shopping during COVID lockdowns in 2020, delivery vans seemed to be everywhere as more businesses began to offer home delivery services. In fact, according to Australia Post, round four in five Australian households – that’s 9 million – bought something online at some point in 2020, a 57% increase year-on-year.
This massive surge for home deliveries has thrown commercial vehicles into the spotlight.
Commercial vans are very practicable in their design so models don’t change as often as popular fleet vehicles. This can create risks for a business with vehicles because active and passive safety technologies have changed so rapidly over the last decade that vans on sale in Australia today aren’t the safest vehicles on the road.
ANCAP report surprises industry
ANCAP (Australian New Car Safety Assessment Program) is Australia’s independent vehicle safety authority. Since 1993 it has been assessing and publishing ratings on the safety of new vehicles when they are released in Australia. In December 2020 ANCAP released a report after reviewing the active safety technology (the ability avoid an accident) on 15 current model vans.
The poor results surprised the fleet industry and the NRMA wants to make sure that the message on active safety technologies (and the acronyms like AEB, ABS, LDW, SAS) reaches every business that owns one of these top selling commercial delivery vans.
Out of the 15 vehicles assessed, only two achieve a Gold rating and five were given a Not Recommended rating based on the modified assessment criteria. And there was a big difference between the two top sellers.
Top selling Toyota Hiace was originally tested by ANCAP in 2019 when the latest model was released and it received a five star ANCAP rating. In this recent assessment it received the top score and a Gold rating in overall performance.
In its report ANCAP said, “The Hiace (is) setting the bar for performance cross the commercial van segment”.
The Ford Transit was the only other commercial van to receive a Gold rating and the second highest overall score. ANCAP’s comments on the Ford Transit provide an insight into the level of detail covered by this review.
“The Ford Transit offers all assessed safety systems as standard, with most systems performing well resulting in an overall performance ranking of GOLD. The fitting of a default-on driver monitoring system would improve its score further.”
Hyundai iLoad is the second highest selling van in Australia. It was given a four star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2011. And in the recent test it received a Not Recommended rating. Hyundai will be releasing a new model iLoad in 2021 that is expected to perform better.
Mitsubishi Express controversy
More recently, Mitsubishi relaunched the previously popular Express van which has been absent from the local market since 2013. When tested by ANCAP it received ZERO stars.
“Mitsubishi recently introduced the Express into our market, but its specifications do not align with today’s safety expectations,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, Carla Hoorweg.
“Unfortunately we saw below par performance for protection of occupants and vulnerable road users from the Express, with results lowered even further due to a fundamental lack of active safety systems.”
ANCAP focuses on "active safety tech"
ANCAP’s rating system has become such a reliable source of vehicle safety information that many businesses and fleet managers use a five star ANCAP rating as a minimum requirement when adding new vehicles to their fleet.
From January 2018 ANCAP changed the assessment criteria and placed more focus on active safety technologies. They currently cover passenger vehicles, SUVs and LCVs up to a GVM of 3.5 tonne and look at four key areas including the protection of adults, children, other road users such as pedestrians or cyclists, and the ability of the vehicle to assist the driver in avoiding a crash.
Changing the assessment criteria doesn’t change the rating of a vehicle previously tested which can create some confusion amongst businesses trying to purchase the safest vehicles for their employees to drive.
ANCAP advises to compare the overall star rating and the year it was tested. The more recent the test, the more stringent the criteria. Then, to keep your employees safe on the road, buy the safest vehicle your business can afford.
Safety Acronym Bingo
How many of these acronyms do the vehicles in your organisation have?
ODS – Occupant Detection System
PCA – Reverse Parking Collision Avoidance Assist
PDW – Reverse Parking Distance Warning
RCCA – Rear Cross-traffic Collision Avoidance Assist
RCCW - Rear Cross-traffic Collision Avoidance Warning
RVM – Rear View Monitor
SBW – Shift by wire
SCC – Smart Cruise Control
SEA – Safe Exit Assist
SRS – Supplement Restraint System
SRSCM – SRS Control Module
SVM – Surround View Monitor
TBT – Turn by Turn
TCS – Traction Control System
TPMS – Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
VSM – Vehicle Stability Control
AEB – Autonomous Emergency Braking
ABS – Anti-lock Braking System
ADAS – Advance Driver Assistance System
LDW – Lane Departure Warning
LKA – Lane Keeping Assist
SLIF – Speed Limit Information Function
ASCC – Advanced Smart Cruise Control
SAS – Speed Support System
LSS – Lane Support Systems