Electronics, car and aerospace manufacturers are among the firms adapting their business models so that production of ventilators can be increased.

Dyson, JCB, Airbus and several car manufacturers are among those switching their production lines to deliver hospital ventilators.

It comes as many industries are feeling the impact of COVID-19. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), most of its members have already announced the temporary closure of plants due to collapsing demand, supply shortages and government measures.

As they deal with the “worst crisis ever to impact the automotive industry”, some firms, including McLaren Automotive, Honda, Toyota, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Nissan in Europe and General Motors, Ford and Tesla in the US are adapting their assembly lines to produce ventilators, masks and other much-needed equipment, or offering design advice.

In Italy, Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler are in talks with the country’s biggest ventilator manufacturer to help boost its output.

ACEA stressed it was important to keep the production and supply of spare parts going, as well as vehicle service networks. “This is essential not only for the maintenance of vital logistics, but also for the work of emergency services like ambulances, firefighters, law enforcement, relief organisations and other public (medical) services,” it said in a statement.

Eric-Mark Huitema, ACEA Director General, added: “The free flow of medicines, food, fuels, equipment and supply parts across the EU must be guaranteed under all circumstances.”

Electronics and aerospace manufacturers are also joining the effort. The UK government has ordered 10,000 medical ventilators designed by vacuum cleaner-maker Dyson as the country attempts to boost the number of devices available to treat coronavirus patients.

It follows an urgent appeal from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to “support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK as part of our response to COVID-19”.

In addition to manufacturers, the government said it was looking for businesses with the following skills:

  • design/specification
  • rapid prototyping
  • contract/product assembly
  • certification/regulation/testing
  • logistics
  • medical training