Car firms to convert factories to make ventilators

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Car firms are answering calls from governments to help make more ventilators and face masks to help out during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fiat began converting one of its car plants in China to start making about one million masks a month.

The carmaker wants to start production in the coming weeks, wrote its chief executive Mike Manley in an email.

Other major car firms are looking at ways they can shift manufacturing towards ventilators.

General Motors, Ford and Tesla in the US have all pledged their support to offer resources to make more ventilators, along with Japanese carmaker Nissan and Formula 1 teams in the UK.

Major car plants in the US, Europe and Asia have halted production to try to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

But they are still pledging to help make ventilators and other vital medical equipment.

Ford on Tuesday said it was working with GE Healthcare and 3M, another health industry manufacturer, to design modified respirators and ventilators, which could be produced using fans, batteries and other parts that Ford typically uses for its cars.

The firms said they did not have a set timeline for delivery of the products.

However, Ford has already started making transparent face shields, to complement existing protective gear for hospital staff, with the first 1,000 set for delivery at three Detroit-area hospitals this week.

It expects to produce about 75,000 of such shields this week.