Registrations of new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) increased by more than a fifth (22%) in February, new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggest.
It was the strongest February since 1998, with 17,205 new models registered as demand from the construction sector and online deliveries drove new vehicle uptake.
Larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes and pickups experienced the biggest surge in demand, up by almost a third (30%) to 11,809 and more than a quarter (26.8%) to 1,716 units respectively.
Meanwhile 4x4s and medium sized van registrations were up a moderate 6.3% and 9%.
It was a different picture for smaller vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes, which were down by 25.3% to just 689 vehicles registered in the month.
Performance in the year-to-date is up 9.5% overall, driven entirely by demand for popular 2.5-3.5t vans with some 6,069 more of these vehicles registered in the first two months of the year.
However, the rest of the market continued to fall, struggling to overcome the ongoing impact of Covid on business confidence, says the SMMT.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “These figures are welcome news, but it’s important to remember that February is typically a small volume month ahead of the March plate change and we want to see this growth continue throughout the year.
“Capitalising on this momentum will be important and an economic plan that encourages growth could help pivot the LCV market toward full recovery.
“With a clear roadmap now in place for how the nation can safely emerge out of lockdown, businesses can look to the next few months with increasing confidence and upgrade their fleets with the many latest, most efficient vans on the market.”