But the economy remains fragile and operators are increasingly targeting frugal models to combat escalating fuel bills.

SMMT boss Paul Everitt said: “Confidence returned to the commercial vehicle market in 2011 and the September market continued the upwards trend.

“The future state of the economy is certainly a concern but it’s clear owners and operators are investing in new, fuel efficient vehicles to help weather the storm of high fuel prices.”

The society said further growth would depend upon the Government’s ability to sustain an investment-led recovery through targeted incentives and encouragement of private spending on research and development.

Medium and heavy vans sold strongly in September as operators continued to move towards maximising payloads and load volumes and businesses operating within the M25 upgraded in preparation for the changes to the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in January.

Sales of commercial vehicles in the largest sector of the market, weighing between 2.5 and 3.5-tonnes, increased by almost 11% to 22,451 units.

Market leader Ford grew sales by 12% to 10,700 but second-placed Vauxhall slipped 4.5% to 4770.

Volkswagen enjoyed a strong month with sales up 26% to 4480 and Nissan had a bumper September with sales of 1600 marking a leap of almost 60%

Citroen jumped three places to number four in the top 10 best sellers’ list despite seeing sales fall 3% to 2750. The French brand, alongside Mercedes, is in the unenviable position of being down on sales in the year-to-date in a market that, overall, is in recovery mode.