Private pickup registrations in Belgium slashed in half

The new fiscal rules for pickups, making them no longer exempt from registration taxes and losing the low annual road tax prerogative, have significantly affected their registrations this year. In Belgium, their popularity among private customers has dropped to a historically low level.

In the first ten months of 2023, only 969 pickups were registered for private use. This marks a significant decline compared to the same period one year earlier, when twice as many were registered (1 940).

Looking at the figures from 2019, the numbers soared three times higher (2 827). The data were reported by the office of Flemish Minister of Finance and Budget Matthias Diependaele (N-VA), who instigated the new taxing rules for pickups.

Professional use grows

As of January 1st, the “unfair tax advantage” for pickups for private individuals was abolished. Now, these must be registered on the same foot as passenger cars unless intended for commercial purposes.

This means the annual road tax is determined by engine capacity and CO2 emissions, similar to any other car. However, pickups used for professional purposes still benefit from the favorable tax regime.

From January to October, 8 414 pickups for professional use were registered alongside those for private customers. This represents a growth of 14,5% in year-to-year comparison (2022: 7 349).

“We now observe that, in the past year, the sales of pickups for professional use remain stable, while those for private purposes have significantly declined. This is a logical consequence of the measure,” commented Minister Diependaele. “It was no longer justifiable for a heavy and polluting pickup, such as a Dodge RAM, to pay the same road tax as a Fiat Panda.”

Higher injury risk

The pickups for private use registered this year but ordered before the end of last year could benefit from a transitional measure, still admitting the tax advantage to these owners.

Approximately 650 pickups for private use are subject to the passenger car tax rate, generating an additional 1,6 million euros from the road tax or registration tax. The additional revenue from annual road tax for these 650 vehicles is estimated at 500 000 euros.

Research from the Vias Traffic Institute previously indicated that the risk of severe injuries in a collision involving pickups is 65 percent lower for the occupants. The risk is 50 percent higher for the car’s occupants colliding with the pickup. In the case of a collision with a cyclist or pedestrian, the likelihood of serious injuries increases by 90 percent, and the risk of fatal outcomes even rises by 200 percent.

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