Unlike passenger car sales, which declined 4.1% last month, UK demand for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) grew 4.7% in April, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 24,604 vans and pick-up trucks were registered in the month, with "new models and compelling market incentives continuing the strong growth seen in Q1", according to the trade group.

Sales of small (below 2 tonnes) and large (2.5-3.5 tonnes) vans drove the market in April, up 8.8% to 2,111 and 6.9% to 15,316 respectively, while demand for medium sized (2.0-2.5 tonnes) vans was flat (up 0.1% to 3,741).

Appetite for both pickup trucks and 4x4s was down by -1.4% (to 3,285) and -4.4% (151) respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, "Such a strong start to the year is good news for the sector, drivers and the environment. Getting more of the latest, low emission models onto our roads is the fastest way to tackle climate change and improve air quality, and with modern vehicles also featuring sophisticated safety and comfort features, and a raft of attractive deals on offer, there's never been a better time to invest in a new van."

A recent SMMT report found one in 10 British workers relied on a van for jobs. It also found that the number of vans had risen 59% since 2000, driven by the online shopping boom and a rapid rise in self-employment.