Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be manufacturing and donating protective face masks at a rate of more than 1 million per month, with production capacity for the masks to be installed this week and manufacturing is to begin in the coming weeks, and they are to be initially distributed across the United States, Canada and Mexico, the company said.

These face masks are to be donated to first responders such as police, EMTs and firefighters as well as hospital workers and health care clinics, FCA said. This action is the first of a multi-faceted global programme being developed by the company through maunfacturing, supply chain and engineering expertise to support the global fight against the pandemic, it said.

“Protecting our first responders and health care workers has never been more important. In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks,” said FCA chief executive Mike Manley.

Also in America, General Motors is working with Ventec Life Systems to leverage the automaker’s logistics and expertise for producing more ventilators, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had been in talks with Medtronic to more than double its capacity for producing ventilators.

Across the pond, it was reported yesterday that the German government has asked its domestic car manufacturers to consider producing medical equipment such as ventilators and face masks to also help contain the coronavirus outbreak in the region, with the aim of overcoming supply bottlenecks for critical medical equipment.

Volkswagen is exploring the possibilities of 3D-printing for the manufacture of hospital ventilators and other life-saving equipment, while Daimler is also currently exploring options. In Italy, Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari are in talks with Siare Engineering, the country’s largest producer of ventilators for the increase of ventilator equipment production.

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