LDV was set to go into administration unless it could find a last-minute investor willing to rescue it. The firm has not built a vehicle since before Christmas and was running out of cash.

“Weststar’s proposed purchase of LDV offers the only credible chance of keeping this manufacturing plant in the UK,” says business minister, Ian Pearson. “While completion of the deal is not certain, it would have been irresponsible of the government not to support it going forward. “But this is a one-off business loan and it cannot be extended,” he stresses.

Heavily dependent on domestic sales, LDV has been hit hard by the catastrophic collapse of the UK van market and the travails of its parent company GAZ. Having acquired the company in 2006, the Russian group admitted earlier this year that it could no longer continue to support it.

LDV has been working in partnership with Weststar since September 2007 and Maxus ambulances are in service with the Malaysian Ministry of Health.