Currently reading: Government to ask UK manufacturers to build ventilators
Firms including Ford, Honda and JCB could be asked to repurpose their British factories to support the NHS
Felix Page Autocar writer
2 mins read
16 March 2020

UK automotive manufacturing firms could be asked to produce ventilators for the NHS, as the health service’s resources are put under heavy strain due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Reports suggest Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak today (16 March) to engineering firms and vehicle manufacturers, including Ford, Honda, Rolls-Royce and JCB, to discuss whether their production lines could be used to build medical equipment. At present, the NHS is said to have only around 5000 ventilators at its disposal. 

A Ford spokesperson confirmed that the firm had been approached by the government, and said: “we want to help where we can in the current situation and we have been approached on this specific matter and are currently in discussion." The firm currently produces vehicle parts at Bridgend and Dagenham. 

Meanwhile, Honda said: “We have been contacted by government about the feasibility of Honda supporting the manufacture of additional ventilators.” The firm’s Swindon plant currently produces the Civic hatchback, but according to the Financial Times, discussions with the NHS regarded whether there is room for new, bespoke medical equipment lines, rather than existing tooling being repurposed. 

Toyota said it has not been contacted directly, but a company representative said the firm would be "more than willing" to investigate how it could be of assistance. 

Although Rolls-Royce could be contacted, it's not clear whether the government is targeting the Derbyshire aerospace facility or the Goodwood factory that produces Rolls-Royce-badged cars including the Phantom Phantom, Dawn, Wraith, Cullinan and Ghost luxury cars. A company spokesperson told Autocar that the firm has not yet been approached by the government. 

A Downing Street statement said: “Preparing for the spread of the coronavirus outbreak is a national priority and we're calling on the manufacturing industry and all those with relevant expertise who might be able to help to come together to help the country tackle this national crisis.

"We need to step up production of vital equipment such as ventilators so that we can all help the most vulnerable, and we need businesses to come to us and help in this national effort."

Anthony Bamford, chairman of Staffordshire-based JCB, said: “We have been approached by the Prime Minister to see if we can help with the production of ventilators. We have research and engineering teams actively looking at the request at the moment.

“It’s unclear as yet if we can assist, but as a British company, we will do whatever we can to help during the unprecedented times our country is facing.”

The global automotive industry has already been profoundly impacted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease, with firms including FCA, Ferrari and Lamborghini forced to temporarily close their primary production facilities to protect workers, suppliers and customers. 


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16 March 2020

Somebody needs to tell Johnson it's not 1940 any more. Back then you could expect any reasonably well-equipped machine shop to turn out pretty much any kind of machine at fairly short notice. But modern, complex, life-critical electronics medical devices are an entirely different kettle of fish...

16 March 2020
Tornadorot wrote:

Somebody needs to tell Johnson it's not 1940 any more. Back then you could expect any reasonably well-equipped machine shop to turn out pretty much any kind of machine at fairly short notice. But modern, complex, life-critical electronics medical devices are an entirely different kettle of fish...




Boris is an idiot for even thinking this.   It shows how far from reality his ideas are.


Completely different tooling required.   Different expertise, and the best people to talk to would be those who actually manufacture this equipment already!


But now Boris can say he asked industry and they weren't able to help.   He's got someone to blame.


16 March 2020

On the contrary, it shows how far from reality your ideas are.

Seems like a good idea of yours to approach the people who already make them. So good an idea its possible they may already be working at full capacity, hence the need for a nationwide effort.

I know its not an ideal situation, but do you think you should just do nothing when peoples' lives are at stake? At least he's doing what he can do in this regard.

All very well sitting back putting cynical critical comments on a motoring forum, but when you're running the country its a 'different kettle of fish'.

16 March 2020
Surely it would be better to approach appliance manufacturers as opposed to machinery manufacturers A washing machine manufacturer such as White Knight would have far more transferable skill at producing what is essentially a similar product.

16 March 2020

it will take months to spin up production of ventilators anyone who knows anything about manufacturing can tell you that. The question to ask Boris is why we are now at the back of the queue for Ventilators made in Europe? Also ask him how he plans to get the vaccine at the same time as EU member states who plan to use EU buying power to buy up all supplies first? Then ask him why he wants a hard Brexit at the end of this year after our economy get pummelled by the Corona virus? The man is an idiot!




16 March 2020

I bet the f1 teams and defence manufacturers could prove useful. Marshalls had an update for the Vulcan in a matter of weeks. 

the contract electronics firms switch between different product lines in hours and can provide all sorts of qa . The ventilators need to be functional rather than leading edge.

16 March 2020

Just proves that Bojo and his mates don't understand modern manufacturing systems, procedures and supply/manufacturing chains. Far better to work with smaller companies who can react more quickly by thinking laterally on component design/manufacturing/sourcing and are not hidebound by cumbersome procedures and ERP systems, etc. Perhaps they ought to look at how things worked when suppliers got involved with military Urgent Operational Requirements in the Iraq war.

16 March 2020

Clueless, all those armchair experts who disagree with any article that's wriiten on these pages. Appparently they're now expert in how to build ventilators.

I wish someone would isolate these idiots for 12 weeks from commenting on subjects they clearly know nothing about, but feel the need to share their expert opinion with the rest of the world.

If only you lot were part of Cobra, we could have this mess cleared up in a matter of days.

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