In what would have been the week of the Commercial Vehicle Show 2020, Ford’s plans to mark 55 years of Transit sales – and commercial vehicle market leadership – are on hold.

The celebration is on hold for good reason – its own Transit fleet has been redeployed to assist the NHS and other organisations in the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic.

More than three million Transits have been sold in the UK since production began at Ford’s Langley Plant in 1965, and today the Transit range is being put to urgent emergency use.

Aside from Ford vehicles already in operation with the emergency services, more than 200 Ford of Britain demonstrator, pool and press vehicles have been deployed to 40 different organisations – including 10 NHS ambulance service trusts – in support of their community-focused work. This vehicle total includes 131 Transit vans.

“Throughout this unprecedented crisis, the van economy has made an unrelenting and continued contribution to the well-being of this country,” said Mandy Dean,  Ford of Britain director.

“As soon as we saw the huge rise in demand for vehicles to support everything from home deliveries to providing transport for care homes, we took action and pressed into urgent service every available Transit and other vehicle in our fleet.”

More than half of the fleets Ford is supporting represent NHS ambulance service trusts and other blue light services, accounting for 38 Transits, 12 Transit Connects, eight Transit Customs, three Transit Couriers and two Ranger pick-ups.

Around a quarter of the vehicles are on loan to food retailers, with others supporting other delivery services – all coping with higher than normal demand.

Pre-crisis the UK was already leading Europe in internet shopping, with around 85 per cent of Brits were purchasing online last year, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The U.K. is becoming increasingly reliant on commercial vehicles, as evidenced by the growth in van sales in recent years, with around one in 10 British workers dependent on a van to carry out their work, or around 3.4 million people.