In early 2022 Fiat Professional’s Ducato van became the first model to earn a top Platinum score from the Commercial Van Safety Rating programme.

The scheme was first introduced in 2021 by safety organisations Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research, and assesses vans based on the availability of autonomous emergency braking (AEB), speed limiter, lane support, and seatbelt reminder systems, as well as the performance of active safety technology.

When the ratings for 2022 were released they revealed that the Ducato had jumped from a 28% Bronze-graded rating to an 88% Platinum rating, making it the first ever Platinum-rated van.

Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research attributed this remarkable improvement to an all-round strong performance by the Ducato’s AEB and speed assistance systems, as well as the introduction of lane keep assist.

Thatcham Research chief research strategy officer Matthew Avery says: “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.”

Avery also expressed the wish that Fiat Professional’s exemplary focus on safety would be shared with the brand’s stablemates within the Stellantis group.

“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.”

For now, though, the Ducato’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) set it apart.

The manufacturer is billing the Ducato as the first ever light commercial vehicle with level two autonomous technology where the steering as well as acceleration or braking are controlled at the same time. The Ducato is in at the start of the self-driving van revolution and it harnesses its driver aid systems impressively. The Ducato is more refined than other vans that employ similar technology. Not only does it deftly control the steering inputs but also gently applies the brakes or increases acceleration to keep you on course at the required speed, and it will do this when cornering.

That’s because the Ducato’s Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop&Go functionality is finely tuned into the Lane Keep Assist and Traffic Jam Assist functions, making driving the Ducato not only easier but also safer. 

There are other features that have started becoming standard fit on other models too, like a speed limiter, pedestrian detecting braking, road sign recognition and driver attentiveness monitoring. Not to mention Cross-Wind Assist, Trailer Stability Control and Active Park Assist, which can do parallel and perpendicular parking, but it is the way in which the Ducato does all of these without ever feeling overbearing or overly controlling that set it apart. 

A less safety-critical but nonetheless useful feature is the digital centre mirror that gives you a crystal clear view of the road behind you, in a screen that not only looks like a traditional rear view mirror, but can also function as one at the flip of a switch. Fiat Professional also deserves praise for providing a five-year warranty, roadside assistance and service package as standard with the E-Ducato. The warranty involves the regular three years, plus an extra two, or up to 125,000 miles, whichever comes first. The roadside assistance is a 24/7 offering, while the free servicing is either every 30,000 miles or once every two years.

Highly Commended: Lightfoot

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Driver coaching firm Lightfoot has launched a new feature designed to deter drivers from speeding. The Live Overspeed Alerts feature, available as an add-on to Lightfoot’s dashboard-mounted live coaching device, notifies drivers when they exceed the limit, and encourages them to adjust their speed with a series of warnings should they continue speeding for ten seconds or more. Drivers who ignore the alerts receive a Lightfoot system penalty, and if they receive five or more of these penalties in a week they become ineligible to enter the weekly giveaways and competitions available via the Lightfoot Driver App. Penalties are also reported to fleet managers, allowing them to swiftly identify repeat offenders, and monitor improvements over time.