Carmakers answer pleas to make medical supplies

Medical ventilators are constructed at the OES medical supply company in Witney, central Britain. OES builds and supplies medical ventilators globally. They are altering their designs to make it more efficient and user friendly to use in treating coronavirus to meet any shortages. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

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Car firms are answering calls from governments to help make more ventilators and face masks to help out during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, Fiat began converting one of its car plants in China to start making about one million masks a month.

The carmaker wants to start production in the coming weeks, wrote its chief executive Mike Manley in an email.

Other major car firms are looking at ways they can shift manufacturing towards ventilators.

General Motors, Ford and Tesla in the US have all pledged their support to offer resources to make more ventilators, along with Japanese carmaker Nissan and Formula 1 teams in the UK.

Major car plants in the US, Europe and Asia have halted production to try to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

But they are still pledging to help make ventilators and other vital medical equipment.

However, some experts have warned that carmakers may not find it easy to switch production.

Jens Hallek, head of ventilator manufacturer Hamilton Medical, told Wired the materials and the components needed to build a ventilator are “highly specific” and require “specialised know-how”.

“These are extremely sensitive machines with not only a lot of hardware, but also a lot of software. If one of the components does not work correctly, the whole machine shuts down and cannot be used any more,” he said.

Read more via BBC/Wired

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