New cars aren’t as needed as medical equipment in the days of the coronavirus, and carmakers are heeding the call. They have the factories, capacity and capabilities, and are well positioned to do a part in this global health crisis.

While US president Donald Trump has been egging on the Detroit big boys to hurry up making ventilators – which are needed to assist breathing in serious cases of Covid-19 – Toyota is also doing its part. Toyota Motor North America, (TMNA) is utilising several of its facilities to fabricate face shields while collaborating with medical device companies to speed the manufacture of ventilators, respirators and other vital devices for hospitals.

“Toyota’s core value has always been to contribute to society in meaningful ways beyond providing mobility for our customers. With our plants idled and our dealers focused on servicing customers, we are eager to contribute our expertise and know-how in order to help quickly bring to market the medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the Covid crisis. Our message to the medical equipment community is we are here to help, please utilise our expertise,” said Ted Ogawa, incoming CEO of TMNA.

TMNA is working to produce 3D-printed face shields, and mass production will kick off early next week. The first distribution will be to MD Anderson in Houston, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and other hospitals in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan. As for face masks, Toyota says it’s ready to produce and is currently seeking partners for filters.

Toyota is also seeking to put together ventilators, and is currently finalising agreements to begin working with at least two companies that produce this device to help increase their capacity. Vehicle production is set to restart on April 20.

The carmaker is also using its Toyota Production System Support Center to offer manufacturing and engineering know-how support to companies to increase capacity for necessary medical supplies and equipment. Another effort is working with hospitals and communities on organising efficient drive-through Covid-19 testing sites.

Other measures aimed at customers include Toyota and Lexus payment relief options to customers affected by Covid-19, ad campaigns to boost morale, and donations to hospitals, emergency management teams and first responders. Items donated include masks, safety glasses, shoe/boot covers, gloves, blankets, and cotton swabs.

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