Automobile manufacturers right across Europe have been playing a key role in the fight against COVID-19, using their resources to manufacture much-needed medical equipment, making employees available, as well as donating vehicles, supplies and money.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has made an overview of some of the key actions undertaken by its members – Europe’s 16 major car, truck, van and bus manufacturers.
Production of medical equipment and supplies
Critical medical equipment has been in short supply worldwide. This is particularly the case for ventilators that help COVID-19 patients to breathe when their lungs fail. Auto makers have been lending their manufacturing know-how and facilities to increase supplies of such life-saving equipment.
- In collaboration with hospitals and healthcare authorities, vehicle manufacturers have been designing and developing prototypes for ventilators.
- Some ACEA members have even been manufacturing ventilators and/or ventilator parts at adapted workstations in their own plants.
- Others are sending manpower to the factories of ventilator manufacturers to help them increase their output to meet the surge in demand.
- Many vehicle makers have been repurposing 3D printers and robots, usually employed in automotive manufacturing, to print surgical masks and face shields.
Donation of medical equipment and supplies
ACEA members have been active in donating medical supplies and other essentials to those who need them most, notably medical professionals at the forefront of the fight.
- This includes defibrillators, first-aid kits, disinfectant, cell phones, as well as protective clothing such as gloves, goggles and high-quality face masks that auto makers normally use in their paint shops.
- Vehicle parts are also being donated. For instance, wiper motors that usually go into trucks are being donated to universities to develop new types of ventilators.
Provision of vehicles and logistical support
In order to ensure the mobility of frontline emergency workers and volunteers (especially in areas where public transport has come to a standstill), ACEA members have been supplying vehicles – including cars, vans, ambulances and even e-scooters. Many manufacturers have also been lending logistical support.
- In addition to giving vehicles to hospitals and the Red Cross, many are also providing them to pharmacies and grocery stores to ensure that essential medicines and food can be delivered.
- Some plants have loaned warehouse or parking space as well as forklifts to local health authorities.
- Factory premises have also been provided to set up drive-in coronavirus test centres.
- Free road-side assistance is being provided to health and public support staff.
Other forms of support
There are many other examples of industry support, either financial or in-kind, for instance:
- Monetary donations have been made, either directly to hospitals or to authorities for purchasing medical equipment.
- Some companies are releasing employees with medical qualifications on full pay so that they can volunteer to assist the public health services.
- Companies are also making calls for blood donations following local hospital shortages.