New van sales leapt by 28% year-on-year in February to 11,731 units, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The surge in registrations helped to push up volumes in the year-to-date by 18.5% to almost 30,000 units.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “Growing van registrations supported the February vehicle market as middle and heavy-weight vans enjoyed healthy rises, reflecting improving economic activity.”

Surprisingly, given the severe flooding across the UK at the start of the year, pick-up sales, which were buoyant in 2013, fell 9.9% in February to 943. The strongest growth was seen in the big-selling medium and heavy van segments. Vans weighing from 2.0-2.5 tonnes were up 111% to 2664 while sales of vans in the 2.5-3.5 tonne bracket rose 24% to 6455 units.

Peugeot enjoyed extraordinary growth of 144% in February with sales of 1693 for the month putting it second in the sales chart behind Ford. A spokesman for the brand said volume increases had been consistent across the product range.