Van registrations grew by 11.9% to 16,049 units in January, compared to 14,338 units a year ago, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Truck registrations, however, fell by 19.6%, to 2,882 units in the month, but were still 2.1% up for the rolling 12 months.
Overall, the figures from the SMMT reveal that commercial vehicle registrations rose by 5.6% in January to 18,931 units.
The SMMT says 2013 is set to be a telling year for the commercial vehicle sector with van registrations off to a good start and the truck sector's performance under close scrutiny ahead of the introduction of Euro 6 from January 2014.
Nigel Base, commercial vehicle manager at the SMMT, said: "Van registrations were up 12% in the month and SMMT forecasts that the light commercial vehicle sector will grow almost 5% over the year, with new models and greater business confidence driving the market."
The lion’s share of new van registrations in January were attributed to vehicles in the 2.5-3.5t sector, with 8,084 registrations – 50.4% of the 16049 units sold.
Small vans, weighing 2t or less, were the next best seller, reporting 2,805 registrations (17.5%).
It is encouraging to see that van registrations improved in January, although truck sales made a disappointing start in 2013” said Sue Robinson, Director of the RMI National Franchised Dealers Association.
“The van market made a positive start in 2013 largely due to keen offers and strong marketing campaigns currently being offered by manufacturers.
“The pick-up and mid-size van sectors both experienced strong sales during January. These vehicles are often purchased by private buyers or the self-employed, which perhaps indicates a boost in a sector that is often used as a barometer on the general public’s spending confidence.
“The overall decline in the truck market follows on from the steep drop in sales experienced at the end of 2012.
“Of particular concern is the reduction in sales of articulated tractors, one of the largest commercial vehicle markets. However it is likely that the decline is in line with normal seasonal changes.”