Reinvigorated Birmingham vanmaker LDV hit its highest monthly sales performance for seven years in January.
The Washwood Heath company, which is back on the road after being taken over by Russian automotive group Gaz, sold a total of 580 vans last month, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed.
LDV itself said it sold 553 of its award-winning Maxus van, with the balance made up by dealers who had to register remaining stocks of the company's discontinued Convoy vans in order to meet the deadline for the expiry of the old Euro 3 emissions standards.
While LDV's figures were flattered by the 27 Pilot registrations, some of its rivals in the light vans market were forced to register many more old technology vehicles – one as many as nearly 600 – an industry source said.
According to the SMMT statistics, LDV's sales actually increased by a whopping 375 per cent in January, compared with the same month last year.
But the company itself played down that number, pointing out that production then was still in the doldrums following months of upheaval that had seen the company go into administration before being bought out by an American private equity group.
It was sold on to Gaz last August and is now seeing a resurgence in sales and in investment levels.
LDV recently announced it had appointed its first ever export director in 43-year-old Robert Drewery.
That reflects optimism that the link up with Gaz is opening up new markets for Maxus in eastern Europe on top of its existing drive into western Europe.
Sales and marketing director Tony Lewis said: "January's sales performance reflects the fact that demand for Maxus van and minibus products has been exceptionally strong in recent months.
"We have had to increase our manufacturing line rates three times in the past six months to manage the inflow of customer-sold orders.
"We are now producing 235 vehicles per week compared to 150 when Gaz came on board."
With the Maxus range due to be expanded further by a chassis-cab variant, output is expected to hit 300 units a week by April. Gaz plans to start building Maxus in Russia next year at the rate of 25,000 a year while raising output from Washwood Heath to 20,000 a year by 2009.
In total, sales of commercial vehicles fell by 2.5 per cent to 24,643 units in January, the SMMT said.
Light commercials, the sector in which LDV competes, gained 1.2 per cent at 21,698 units while sales of trucks fell by 23.4 per cent to 2,945.
Truck sales are now returning to more sustainable levels following the recent rush by operators to beat the deadline for the introduction of new European regulations, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said.
"Truck registrations averaged 55,000 units for the last seven years and we expect demand will drive the figures back to this level in the months ahead," Mr Macgowan said.
"The van sector continued its growth, with total registrations up on January 2006, particularly for heavier vans and pick-ups."n LDV yesterday further strengthened its sales team with the appointment of a dedicated commercial manager for the Benelux region.
Henk Kruit joins LDV having previously commercial experience with DAF in Holland and with DAF and Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the region. He will also support LDV's entry into the German market.