- AEB to come as standard on all VW vans in the UK
- Fitted to Caddy, Crafter and Transporter from June 2017
- System saves lives – and operating costs, too
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) been described as ‘probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt’ – and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has now become the first van maker to fit it as standard across its entire UK van range.
VW calls its AEB system Front Assist with City Emergency Braking, and it will come as standard equipment on all Caddy, Transporter and Crafter vans ordered after 1 June 2017. The Amarok pickup misses out for now.
Safety experts Thatcham Research – the motor insurers’ automotive research centre – have labelled VW’s decision ‘trailblazing’ within the light commercial vehicle sector, and believe such technology has the potential to save ‘more than 100 lives and 120,000 casualties over the next 10 years.’
Hence Thatcham also equating AEB’s importance with that of the seat belt, above.
In fact, Thatcham Research chief executive Peter Shaw goes further, saying, ‘It is shocking that AEB, a proven lifesaving technology, has not been widely available to van owners or drivers until now.
'We call upon all vehicle manufacturers to follow Volkswagen’s lead, and fit AEB as standard on all their light commercial vehicles as soon as possible.’
How does AEB work?
AEB technology is already commonly found on cars, and VW’s system works in a similar manner to others on the market.
The Front Assist element uses a radar sensor built into the front of the van, which measures the distance to the vehicle in front in order to alert the driver when that distance becomes unsafe.
Should the situation start to become what the system identifies as dangerous, there are two stages of activation.
Stage one begins with visual and audible warnings, when a slow moving or suddenly braking vehicle is detected ahead. It also primes the brakes read for emergency action. Should the driver fail to respond, its final warning will be a short, one-off braking application, which also signals the imminent activation of stage two.
Stage two occurs when a collision is imminent. Should the driver now react, it will deliver the full braking force available, regardless of whether the driver is braking strongly enough.
Modern braking systems are extremely powerful, and many drivers will be astonished at just how quickly a van can be brought to s stop in these circumstances. VW reckons this will often be enough to avoid a collision altogether, depending on the speed differences involved.
In addition to Front Assist, the VW system also features a City Emergency Braking function. This works up to 18mph, and automatically applies the brakes should the driver fail to see or react to an obstacle.
This will either reduced the speed of impact significantly, or – ideally – even avoid collision entirely.
You can watch how both systems work in the following videos from Volkswagen's car division:
How does AEB benefit vans?
As well as reducing death and injury, according to VW AEB helps to cut third party insurance claims by as much as 45%.
‘For van drivers and fleet operators,’ says VW, ‘this means lower costs as well as less downtime thanks to fewer crashes and therefore drivers and vans kept on the road – working – for longer.’
On top of which, VW also says vehicles with AEB systems ‘have an average insurance premium reduction of 10% compared to the those which don’t.’
Why has VW decided to be first to make AEB standard on its vans?
Head of marketing for VW vans in the UK, Sarah Cox: ‘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.
‘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?’
Thatcham’s Peter Shaw added: ‘ 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.’