Company car drivers are increasingly switching from large SUVs into ‘lifestyle’ pick-ups to take advantage of generous subsidies, according to new research.

Most pick-ups are classed as LCVs, meaning drivers do not pay VAT on the purchases, while the Benefit-in-Kind rate is set at a flat rate, irrespective of the CO2 emissions or price.

For the 2018/19 tax year, BIK for pickups is fixed at £3,350, meaning that 20% taxpayers pay £670 a year or £55.83 a month. For a 40% tax payer it works out at £1,340 for the year or £111.67 a month.

According to automotive data giant Cap HPI, traditional company car drivers moving away from fleet vehicles and into lifestyle pick-ups has fuelled the boom in registrations.

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It said 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. Last year 13.67% of all LCVs sold were 4×4 lifestyle and the volume of new 4x 4lifestyle registrations means it is now the third largest sector across the entire LCV range for registrations in 2019 so far, behind medium vans (40.5%) and large vans (20.2%).

Steve Botfield, senior editor, commercial vehicles and motorcycles at Cap HPI, said: “Drivers often choose lifestyle pick-up vehicles to reduce company car tax, because the HMRC classify any vehicle as a van if the payload is greater than 1000kg. This has big tax benefits and can mean that motorists can drive a vehicle with a good spec and big on road presence at a fraction of the cost of running a large luxury 4×4. The increasingly enhanced specifications and features such as secure load covers, which are not included with standard 4×4 lifestyles, means they also hold their values well in the used market, making them an even more solid purchase.”