Revived Birmingham vanmaker LDV is looking set to hit its goal of driving up sales by 50 per cent in 2006.

By the end of March the company had recorded 1,582 registrations of its Maxus panel vans - an increase of almost 18 per cent over the same period last year.

And at 956 registrations, March also saw a near-90 per cent rise in volumes over the previous month, when 504 were registered.

The figures are a boost for the company, which was bought last December by US-based private equity group Sun Capital Partners after a brief period in administration.

Interim chief executive Charles Megan, a manufacturing specialist employed by Sun, said: "March was a particularly strong month for Maxus sales and the forward order book looks very encouraging.

"We've now really shifted up a gear with a product that some big name operators recognise as being well designed and well built and that represents great value for money. It's particularly pleasing that several major rental and leasing companies are amongst our recent customers.

"These include Avis, Budget, United Rentals, Europcar, TLS and Lex Leasing as well as several more regionally based companies."

LDV will today use the backdrop of the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC to unveil two new variants of the Maxus - a minibus and a higher specification Platinum model.

As well as sales to rental fleet customers and booming retail sales, Maxus is also making its mark with own-account fleet operators. March deliveries have included vans for the Royal Mail, Parcelforce, City Link and Hotpoint