According to the SMMT, 17,154 new vans were driven off forecourts in January compared to just 11,546 a year earlier. In the rolling year to the end of January registrations were up almost 23% to 228,523 units.

SMMT boss Paul Everitt welcomed the strong start to 2011 but warned “uncertainty remains over the year ahead” – particularly with next month’s Budget looming.

Sales of light vans of up to two tonnes increased by 14% to 3371 last month, pick-ups continued to recover with a 72% leap to 1911, medium vans were up 48% to 2018 and heavy van volumes grew 61% to 9369.

Market leader Ford consolidated its position by growing sales 73% in January to 4558. Other brands to enjoy a strong month included Nissan, up a massive 115% and top five players Volkswagen and Renault, which increased sales by almost 76% and 77% respectively.