ESP safety system stabilises Fiat Ducato vans

With a nod to possible future legislation, Fiat has made its Electronic Stability Programme standard across all versions of its Ducato van, bringing it in line with safety requirements for new cars in the UK.

The Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), which was introduced in April, uses information supplied by sensors dotted around the car to check whether the van is cornering safely. The information is then relayed back to the ESP computer, which will reduce the engine power or reduce the appropriate wheel if it believes the vehicle is going to skid.

The ESP is not a single system includes an array of more complicated technology and sub-systems, which work collectively to prevent a skid or loss of control. The Electronic Stability Programme includes:

  • Hydraulic Brake Assist - increases braking pressure in emergency conditions;
  • Load Adaptive Control - enables the system to work at peak effectiveness by identifying the van’s load and centre of gravity;
  • Hill Holder - assists drivers with hill starts by holding the brake on momentarily after the driver’s foot has been released from the pedal;
  • Anti-Slip Regulation - counteracts the effects of one or both wheels skidding by acting on individual brakes or temporarily reducing the power delivered to the engine.

While ESP has been introduced across the range, the Ducato offers another traction system, the Traction+, which builds on the effect of the ESP system to simulate the effect of a locking differential on the front axle. Simply put, if one of the van’s wheels spin, the system removes the torque until traction is regained and the tire grips again. The Traction+ effectively works as a 4x4 system, without the associated cost.

At only £150, the Traction+ doesn’t require any additional hardware, making it a lighter and cheaper alternative to 4x4. It is anticipated that this development could potentially reduce demand for 4x4 vehicles as, when combined with the right tyres, it provides the grip required for all-season use on every road surface.

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