The launch of its much- praised Maxus van helped Birmingham van maker LDV to escape the industry-wide drop in the 2005 commercial vehicle market, new figures have revealed.

While the total market slipped by one per cent during the year, the light commercial vehicle segment was even harder hit, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The total number of new registrations fell by one per cent to 386,000, while light commercial vehicles fell two per cent to 323,000.

But LDV, which went into temporary administration last month before being bought by an American private equity company, saw its sales increase by nearly one per cent, from 8,314 to 8,387 vehicles.

Christopher MacGowan, chief executive of the SMMT, said: "Commercial vehicle registrations in 2005 just missed the record set in 2004.

"But the total is still one of the highest for many years and Eurozone business confidence suggests that 2006 will be another good year for the industry."

Meanwhile, Land Rover has achieved its best sales performance in the company's history. In the record year of 2005, the Solihull 4x4 manufacturer sold 185,120 vehicles around the world, an increase of 14 per cent on 2004.

The US saw sales surge by 30 per cent and for the UK it was another record year, marking six years of growth.

Emerging markets like China and Russia generated sales increases of 105 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

In the UK, December's cold snap led to an end-of-year boost which took sales to 48,777 - three per cent higher than the previous year and the company's fifth record year in a row.

Andy Griffiths, Land Rover's UK marketing director, said the company was expecting more sales driven by the weather conditions.