Van registrations grew 24% to 11,113 year-on-year in February as the market continued to return to stability.

SMMT boss Paul Everitt said the government should safeguard the upturn with measures in the forthcoming Budget.

“We are now seeing a sustainable improvement in new vehicle demand and the Budget will be critical in strengthening consumer and business confidence,” said Everitt.

“The SMMT is looking for a freeze on fuel duty and measures that support business investment and access to finance and credit.”

Sales of pick-ups increased by more than 70% in February to 1071 and were up just under 72% in the first two months of the year. Heavy vans of between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes grew 38% to 6079 in February and remained over 50% up in the year-to-date and sales of vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes grew 44.6% in February to 1359 and 46.4% in January and February combined.

However, volumes in the light van sector (up to 2 tonnes) slumped 16% in February to 2420 and were down by just under 1% in the year-to-date.