New van registrations increased by more than 13% to 271,073 units in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “Van owners and operators responded positively to the wider economic recovery.

“We expect the forthcoming launches of several new light commercial vans to deliver further growth in this important sector,” he added.

The biggest rises last year were in sales of vans weighing between 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes – up almost 28% to 39,600 and in pick-up volumes, which increased 20% to 29,400.

The largest sector of the market, encompassing vans weighing from 2.5 to 3.5-tonnes, grew by 11.6% to more than 153,400 while the niche 4×4 segment was up 9.6% to just under 6,900.

Market leader Ford increased its volumes by 9% to 68,000 and continued to account for one-in-four of the UK’s LCV sales. VW, Vauxhall, Mercedes and Citroen all posted healthy rises for the year but Renault continued to struggle – down 12%.

In the final month of the year total registrations leapt up 32.5% to almost 21,000 compared to December 2012.