• First UK van manufacturer to fit AEB as standard across range
  • Insurance premiums tumble for Volkswagen’s van fleet customers
  • Plaudits roll in for Volkswagen’s industry-leading decision
  • Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ Sarah Cox: “Our customers are delighted”

Hailed as the biggest development in vehicle safety since the seat belt, Autonomous Emergency Braking – AEB – is set to transform the van fleet landscape across the UK.

With the enormous potential to save lives, reduce injuries, cut accidents and slash costs arising from insurance, repairs and downtime, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles are now in the vanguard of this exciting development.

In 2017, the firm announced that it would fit AEB as standard right across its van range, making it the very first UK commercial vehicle maker to do so. It meant that every customer ordering a new Caddy, Transporter or Crafter van from June 1, 2017, would be guaranteed this life-saving technology – incorporating Front Assist with City Emergency Braking – as standard.

The announcement came as leading experts at world-renowned Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, announced that AEB now had the potential to save more than 1,000 lives and 120,000 casualties over the next decade, in the UK alone.

Thatcham added that AEB not only had the potential to reduce the number and severity of accidents, but that it had been proven to cut third party injury insurance claims by 45 per cent, too. As any fleet operator knows, this means lower costs and less downtime thanks to fewer crashes, with more vans and drivers kept on the road.

In a further benefit, said Thatcham, vehicles fitted with AEB have an average insurance premium reduction of 10 per cent, putting more money back into fleet operators’ budgets. As if to prove this, within months of the announcement, insurance group ratings for the all-new Crafter tumbled by up to four groups, thanks to AEB becoming standard.

For Sarah Cox, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ Head of Marketing, the firm’s decision to fit AEB as standard was a breakthrough moment. “We’re really proud to be the first to fit AEB as standard to all our vans. This means safer vehicles on our roads, leading to fewer accidents, lower costs for operators and potentially fewer lives lost: what could be more important?”

In fact, the decision by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to make lives easier for fleet managers by fitting ADAS (Assisted Driver Assistance Systems) started back in 2015, when it fitted Automatic Post Collision Braking as standard on all van models. This – another cutting edge technology with life-saving potential – automatically applies the brakes after airbag sensors detect that a collision is occurring, during the initial moments of a collision. By applying the brakes immediately, the likelihood of further damage and injury, through continued momentum of the vehicle, is minimised.

Volkswagen’s industry-leading actions in standardising invaluable safety aids won high praise from Peter Shaw, Chief Executive at Thatcham Research.

Volkswagen is a trailblazer and should be applauded for being the first manufacturer to fit AEB as standard on all its vans in the UK. The truth is that we are seeing a year on year rise in deaths and serious injuries involving vans, which this technology can help to avoid.

So why did Volkswagen decide to break away from the pack – and put safety first, in such dramatic fashion?

Sarah Cox’s answer is simple:

“What could be more important? Producing safe, reliable vans has been at the heart of our brand for over 60 years. But technology is advancing at a pace and we’re continually seeing more, and better ways to keep drivers safe on the road.”

Miss Cox adds that feedback from fleets about Volkswagen’s decision has been ‘really positive’. “One issue for fleet operators historically is that they can’t fit ‘extras’ to their vehicles. By having safety as standard, they don’t have to make that choice – and then the business case stacks up too.

“If your vans are on the road, your business is working. If they’re not, because your van is damaged or off the road with an injured driver, that’s costing the business money – and potentially, customers too.”

Further plaudits for Volkswagen’s bold decision are expected soon, with a realignment on Caddy and T6 models’ insurance anticipated.

And British Gas – a big Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles customer and DfBB Champion – now has fleet data which shows a drop in accidents since they started fitting AEB to their vehicles.

“It was an important decision last year for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to become the first to fit AEB as standard on all of our vans in the UK,” says Miss Cox. “It was a bold decision but we knew it was the right decision, and the figures are now speaking for themselves. Our customers are delighted.”

Try the technology for yourself

Driving for Better Business, in association with the Stop the Crash Partnership and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles are hosting a series of demonstration days for fleet decision makers to try a selection of car and van safety technology systems including the systems fitted to Volkswagen vans. With strictly limited and heavily subsidised places, delegates will get the chance to experience these systems for themselves and see just how big a contribution they can make to fleet safety.

Reserve your places here