Van sales in the UK are rising, and rising more quickly than car sales are. That has to be good news for the economy, as it is an obvious sign that there is enough business about to keep investing in new vehicles, but I do wonder if there is something else pushing the sales figures up.
I have spent the last six weeks or so driving a variety of pickup trucks, from the cheap and cheerful Great Wall Steed to the chromed-up Yee-hah! Americana of the Ford Ranger. In that time I’ve discovered something significant – modern pickups are light years away from what existed just ten years ago, which makes them perfectly useable as an everyday vehicle.
If your business is needs a vehicle with a not much more than a large boot, yet you’ve got a couple of kids to ferry around at the evening and weekends, then they start to make quite a lot of sense.
They then make a lot more sense once you start looking at the taxation on them.
As a private buyer, there is not much of a benefit to driving a truck, save for the fact that you could possibly reduce a two-car fleet down to just one. However, you will suffer from barely adequate fuel economy (I have averaged 31.6 mpg across all the vehicles so far) and a slightly less luxurious interior than you may find in a Land Rover Discovery.
As a company car driver though, the numbers stack up very well.
Instead of taxing the driver on the entire cost of the vehicle, the tax man for once is very generous and charges you on just £3,000. Even better, if you use the vehicle for personal use as well as business use, you only pay tax on £564 of fuel.
Putting that in to some kind of financial perspective, you could expect to pay some £3,000 a year less than if you were driving a Land Rover Freelander. At just over £25,000 and putting out 165 g/km of CO2, a Freelander 2.2 TD4 could cost as much as £4,611 a year for a 40% tax payer.
A similarly priced Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian, with its five seats, sat-nav, leather and so on, could cost just £1,420 in tax over the year.
It is not just pickup trucks where this works though, with traditional vans now getting in on the act.
The new Mercedes Citan van, based on the Renault Kangoo, is a proper van in every sense, with a large payload area, wide doors at the rear and sliding side doors. However, there is also an ingenious bit of design work behind the driver.
The rear bench seat can seat three people, with a split/fold system allowing one third or two thirds to fold down allowing larger objects to be carried. Fold the whole bench seat forward and you’ll find it turns in to a cargo retainer, with a grille rising to the roof.
What was a moment ago a five seater with enough storage capacity for a family week away has now turned in to a full-size van with a capacity of 3.7 cubic metres.
For those of a more ecological bent, the government will even step in and pay as much as £8,000 towards the cost of an electric van. There might be a limited range of pure electric vans around right now, but the Mercedes twin at Renault, the Kangoo Z.E., starts at just £12,995 and you’ll never need to put a penny of diesel in.
Vans and pickups are no longer the poor relations to cars, with virtually every model being able to be specified with climate control, alloy wheels, leather trim and all the other toys you might expect on a normal car.
There is no reason to sacrifice safety either, with the Ford Ranger being given the full five star rating when crash tested by Euro NCAP. As well as holding up well to the crash wall, stability control and traction control intervene to try and avoid the accident in the first place.
There is also the surety of four wheel drive, ideal for winter or even just the local car boot sale – and imagine how much you could carry in that boot!
If you’re in a business that needs a van, but you’re also able to make it double up as the family car, you could be in line to save thousands of pounds a year without sacrificing anything in the way of creature comforts.
The only decision to be made is how you’ll spend all that saved cash!
[button link=”http://www.contracthireandleasing.com/car-leasing-news/time-to-pickup-some-savings/” rel=”nofollow” color=”orange”]This article was first published at ContractHireAndLeasing.com on 7 May 2013.[/button]