Sales of its Daily dipped by just 1% to 3593 in 2012 but it retained its 5.7% share of the total 3.5-tonne market, which remained on an even keel at 63,364 units – only 0.9% behind 2011.

According to data from the SMMT, sales of vans weighing 2.8-3.49 tonnes plummeted by 8.8% last year to just over 51,000, while other categories favoured by SMEs and owner drivers, such as light vans under 2.0-tonnes and medium vans of between 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes slumped by more than 11% and 8% respectively.

Marta Nappo, Iveco UK’s marketing director, said: “Small businesses and one man bands are reluctant to invest because of the economy – but this is not Iveco’s market.”

Iveco said it was also well placed to benefit from the surge in online sales, which, it claimed, rose 14% to reach £60bn in 2012 to account for 13.2% of all retail sales.

Operators commonly use 3.5-tonne vans such as the Daily to deliver online purchases to customers, Iveco said.

Iveco said sales of the Daily had also benefited from operators downsizing from heavier trucks into 3.5-tonne vans, which do not require drivers to have special licences. However, this trend has seen Iveco lose ground in the 3.5 to 7.0-tonne segment.