How the Automotive Industry is Helping in the Fight Against COVID-19
Car manufacturers and racing teams are working together to provide some much needed help upon the pandemic that has recently struck the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the entire world in one way or another, the automotive industry is no exception. Races have been postponed or even canceled, MotoGP and Formula E had to hit pause on their respective seasons while Formula 1 wasn't even able to start. Around the globe, some of the industry's major manufacturers have had to close their factories and holt production. However, several of these have also shifted their focus into finding ways to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. Here are just some of the examples.
The Woking engineers developed a respirator to protect British NHS staff and other front-line personnel.
The McLaren F1 Team was among the first to take action, after a member of their staff tested positive for the virus before the Australian GP, the team announced it would not be taking part in the event (which was canceled soon after). In their facilities in Woking, the team, working with the University of Southampton designed and developed in record time a prototype respirator (in the picture) to help the effort of the British NHS. The design was waiting for approval but had received positive feedback from the medical experts. If approved, the design and specifications would be published open-source (no patent) for other manufacturers and organizations to produce.
Mercedes, in collaboration with the University College of London, designed and developed a respirator in record time.
Despite the brand being German, the headquarters for the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 Team are located in the UK. As part of "Project PitLane" the current team champion devoted all of its engineering prowess to the program. In a coalition with the University College of London, the team designed, developed, and presented a respirator prototype (in picture) in only 100 hours. The design was approved and the team has already compromised to deliver 10,000 units across Britain in the following days.
The department where car prototypes are usually built is now producing these thermoplastic components..
Fiat and Ferrari
The Agnelli family, who own Fiat and Ferrari, donated 10 million euros to the fight against the disease. Fiat has provided fleets of cars to several hospitals in Italy for the medical authorities to use if needed. On April 16th, Ferrari started producing respirator valves and fittings for protective masks in their factory in Maranello in collaboration with diving equipment manufacturer Mares. In the following days, Ferrari plans to manufacture hundreds of these items, which are already being distributed, to various Italian hospitals including those in Bergamo, Genoa, Modena, and Sassuolo, as well as to health workers in the town of Medicina, near Bologna.
Some brands, like Audi took part in campaigns calling for social distancing.
Audi hasn't gotten involved in the manufacturing of respirators or similar equipment since the German brand was among the first to call for the complete shutdown of their factories worldwide. However, some of their factories are 3d-printing face masks as part of the Volkswagen Group initiative. The brand has also released several ads and campaigns in favor of social distancing. Among them, this alteration of their logo, which was first published in Spain.
The Volkswagen Group, along with its subsidiaries started producing 3d-printed face masks.
The Volkswagen brand is one of the biggest names in the industry. In the fight against the virus they have also shut down their factories, however, their factory in Navarra, Spain, has started making 3D-Printed face shields and other supplies for the medical service workers. The brand is also reportedly working with AirBus in a larger coalition that will see the supplies delivered by the French aerospace giant. Other members of the Volkswagen Group, such as Rolls Royce and Skoda, have also gotten involved, with Skoda now 3D-printing face masks and the British luxury brand working on a respirator prototype.
Both SpaceX and Tesla have invested in developing equipment to aid the medical specialists, the later focusing on developing a respirator prototype out of automotive components.
The electric car manufacturer started quickly producing face masks as the situation started to worsen in the US, many shipments of these have already been delivered. They are currently well advanced in the process of developing a respirator prototype using automotive components.
Lamborghini is producing surgical masks and face shields in its factory in Sant´Agata.
The Italian manufacturer was quick to stop production of their vehicles and shifted its attention into quickly turning their factory division from making the seats and interiors for their cars, into making face masks. Face shields are also being 3D-printed in the factory, all to be delivered to the several hospitals in need of the equipment in Italy.
General Motors teamed up with Ventec Life Systems to produce ventilators.
The American automotive giants have gotten involved in the production of respirators and other equipment needed for intensive care for the rapidly increasing amount of cases in the United States. General Motors partnered up with Ventec Life Systems to produce ventilators and other components. The first ventilators will be ready this week, ahead of schedule, and a total of 6,132 will be available by June 1st.
Ford teamed up with GE Healthcare to produce ventilators based on a design made by Airon Corp.
The Ford brand started working with 3M to develop face masks and respirator filters, while at the same time it partnered with General Electric (GE) to work on a ventilator prototype designed by Airon Corp, and produce it in its plant in Michigan. The brand has used its own supply chains to deliver the equipment and has recently provided tens of thousands of face masks and shields to medical centers and police stations in the New York area. The brand has also provided fleets of vehicles through its branches in Spain for use by the Spanish Red Cross.
SEAT engineers had the idea to design respirators out of adapted windscreen wiper motors.
The Spanish brand has also dedicated a large effort into helping the medical experts in the country, which was at one point the country with the most cases. The brand quickly started working on 3D-printed face shields and the manufacturing of face masks. What is possibly the most interesting idea they had was to manufacture respirators with adapted windscreen wiper motors. Their design was approved and they have already built 3,000 units.
Toyota joined movements in Europe and produced face masks in the US.
The Japanese manufacturer was also quick to shut down factories around the world. Some of them have started also working in 3D-printed face shields and other medical devices for the countries with the most severe cases. The brand's Spanish branch also joined the #YoCedoMiCoche (I yield my car) movement and has had put its corporate fleets of cars to the service of health specialists, lending its service for pick-up and delivery of patients as well as home visits by doctors.
The French manufacturers joined a coalition to produce respirators
Renault and Peugeot
Renault closed of its factories in Europe, however, it provided support to a worker-led initiative in their factories in Spain to produce protective filter masks especially destined to the police, of which they have already produced over 20,000. They have also used 3D printers to produce face shields and valves for the intensive care respirators. PSA Peugeot has also re-opened a very reduced amount of its factories to groups of under 50 volunteer employees to build respirator components. The Renault brand has since joined Peugeot and Michelin to design and manufacture respirators in France along with the brand Air Liquide Medical, which is the only French manufacturer for these devices.
Nissan complied with the British government and is now producing equipment in the UK.
After bringing all its factories in Europe to a halt, the Japanese manufacturer has joined others and has now started production of respirator components in its factories in the UK.
The South Korean brand ceased operations in their factories, but perhaps more remarkably they were the first manufacturer to join the #YoCedoMiCoche (I yield my car) movement in Spain. The brand has placed its corporate fleets and even the vehicles in their dealerships to the disposal of the hospitals in Spain as well as the Spanish Red Cross. Their vehicles are being used to pick up and deliver patients as well as supplies and medicines.
Suzuki joined Hyundai in Spain and has left its vehicles to be used by the medical authorities
Suzuki was also among the brands that ceased operations in their factories. Soon after Hyundai joined the #YoCedoMiCoche movement, Suzuki and Toyota joined too and have since put its corporate fleets to the service of any hospitals that could need them. Their publication reads in Spanish "From Suzuki we join the lovely initiative of @hyundaiesp and we yield our press park to any hospital in Madrid that could need it. Get in contact!"
Land Rover deployed over 160 vehicles to be put in service of the British Red Cross. They were also deployed in France, Spain, South Africa, and Australia.
The British manufacturer has deployed over 160 4x4 vehicles, including 27 brand new Defenders, all around the world to help the emergency response to areas of difficult access in countries such as Spain, France, South Africa, and Australia. The brand has also partnered with the British Red Cross to deliver medical supplies and is also currently starting to manufacture face shields for hospitals.
Chrysler started producing face masks and other supplies to be provided to front-line medical workers.
The American brand shut off production of vehicles in the United States and several other countries. It has recently announced it has already started working in producing face masks, with their goal being to produce at least 1 million units in the next month. Their delivery will be initially focused in North America and the supply is to start in Canada, the US, and Mexico. The brand aims to supply hospitals but also is planning on preparing special deliveries for the American police forces as well as firefighters and other first responders that must continue to work despite the pandemic.
As you can see, many car manufacturers are trying to do their part to help with the current situation. I only mentioned a few, the fact that I didn't mention any specific one doesn't mean they aren't doing anything. For instance, pretty much every single major manufacturer shut down their factories, many have delivered help in some smaller form. We are all together in this, and if multi-million dollar car manufacturers or F1 championship-winning teams are doing their part to help, I urge you to do the same and STAY AT HOME.
That is it for this article. I decided to write it because I just found it simply amazing to see how people are always willing to come together and help. As a Formula 1 fan I was delighted to see how without any second thought, F1 teams switched their focus and gathered all of their engineering expertise to help. Multi-million dollar equipment, put to the service of a bigger cause. Brands providing vehicles and working with each other to design, develop, and deliver respirators and other medical equipment. I think it is simply fantastic. A brilliant example of what people can do when they are united. Thank you for reading, take care, and please stay home.