Company car drivers are choosing 4x4 'lifestyle' pick-ups in increasing volumes over more traditional vehicles due to their tax-beating credentials.

That’s the explanation by automotive data industry provider CAP HPI as to why registrations of new 4×4 ‘lifestyle’ vehicles have increased year-on-year for the past 10 years, more than doubling from 7.24% in 2010 to 15.02% so far in 2019. The ‘lifestyle’ models, which are classed as light commercial vehicles, last year accounted for 13.67% of all vans sold.

The top three 4×4 ‘lifestyle’ models registered last year were:

The Ford Wildtrak 3.2 200 Auto
Nissan Tekna 2.3 190 4WD
Auto/Nissan Tekna 2.3 190 4WD
Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian 4WD Auto

This year, models from Ford, Mitsubishi and Nissan are the best sellers in the sector accounting for 33.11%, 24.24% and 17.78% respectively of total segment sales.

Steve Botfield, senior editor, commercial vehicles and motor cycles, at CAP HPI, said: “It’s easy to see why registrations have doubled in this sector in the past nine years as drivers recognise 4×4 ‘lifestyle’ vehicles’ flexible use as a multi-purpose vehicle with top class specifications and very appealing tax benefits.”

In 2019/20 the van benefit-in-kind tax charge is a flat-rate £3,430. That means a 20% taxpayer will pay £686 a year (£57.17 a month) and a 40% taxpayer £1,372 a year (£114.33 a month). That, said CAP HPI, made choosing a 4×4 ‘lifestyle’ model “a disproportionately cheap alternative to a conventional SUV or other choice of company car”.

Mr Botfield said: “Drivers often choose lifestyle pick-up vehicles to reduce company car tax, because HM Revenue and Customs classify any vehicle as a van if the payload is greater than 1000kg. This has big tax benefits.”Person putting on seatbelt