The arrival of prestige manufacturers providing greater choice in the pick-up sector is leading to a growing proportion of buyers choosing to run them instead of vans, says Arval.
It says that the success of models such as the Volkswagen Amarok and the arrival of the Mercedes-Benx X-Class (pictured) are both signs of a developing trend, as is the fact that almost all major manufacturers now offer a pick-up.
Eddie Parker, LCV product manager, said: “This is a continuation of something that has been underway for a decade or more. Pick-ups have been becoming more and more car-like, both in terms of comfort and equipment, and driving characteristics.
“For these reasons, we have seen more and more smaller fleets decide to swap their company van and their private car for a pick-up with a double cab, potentially moving from two vehicles to one.”
He explained that the impetus for considering this move was often tax – with pick-ups attracting a fraction of the benefit-in-kind of company cars – but that their increasingly civilised nature made the switch more attractive.
“Many pick-ups can be specced up to match the kind of equipment levels that you might find on a £40-50,000 prestige car or SUV, yet the benefit in kind is still based on a relatively low flat rate,” he said. “Even a 40% tax payer will only pay around £100 per month.
“Also, the fuel economy is probably comparable with a 4x4, so they are not expensive to run.”
Other pick-up advantages include good towing capacity, off-road ability if needed and comparatively good payload – although there are still several compelling reasons why businesses continue to opt for vans, said Parker.
“Generally, pick-ups are not as good to drive as vans, often providing a harsher ride, combined with less load space. If you need specialist fitments, few are available, and while the majority of pick-ups are fitted with a load cover, security is inevitably not as strong as a panel van.
“Vans also come in a great many variants of size and shape which allows businesses to tailor the vehicle they select to their specific needs.
“However, for a lot of people, these compromises are worth it because of the overall quality and image of the vehicles now becoming available, plus the tax position. We fully expect to see other prestige manufacturers join the pick-up market in the future.”
A final point, he said, was that pick-ups were effectively filling the gap in the market left by the demise of the Land Rover Defender, something that was also powering sales.
He added: “For certain businesses with certain needs, the end of the old Defender has definitely left a gap in their fleet provision. Many of these are turning to pick-ups, which offer a similar mix of off-road ability, load carrying potential and seating for four of five people.”