Indian automobile sector releases funds to aid containment of COVID-19

WION New Delhi, India Mar 29, 2020, 12.48 PM(IST) Written By: Sumit Chaturvedi Edited By: Bharat Sharma

A worker sprays solution to sanitize an auto-rickshaw as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in New Delhi on March 20, 2020 Photograph:( AFP )

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India's auto sector has offered to help the administration and health workers in tackling the outbreak

Amid the coronavirus pandemic which has now infected over 600,000 people globally, India's auto sector has offered to help the administration and health workers in tackling the outbreak.

Utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra has announced plans to manufacture low-cost ventilators in its Maharashtra factory. These in-house "Ambu Bag" ventilators will be manufactured for less than ₹7,500. The "Ambu" is an artificial breathing unit, with a prototype bag valve mask equipped with a self-inflating mechanism to aid breathing among ailing patients.

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"We are simultaneously working with an indigenous maker of ICU ventilators. This device is an interim lifesaver and the team estimates it will cost below ₹7,500", Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra tweeted.

M&M is also set to begin manufacturing a face shield based a design pitched by its partner Ford Motor Company based in the United States. This shield is intended for use by health care providers.

Car maker Maruti Suzuki India intends to produce 10,000 ventilators a month. The company said it will work with AgVa Healthcare to rapidly scale up production of life-saving paraphernalia as the demand arises. 

"There can be initial difficulties as ventilator manufacturing is a new area for us but we are using all our functions and resources including engineers, designers and supply chains to manufacture them", said RC Bhargava, the Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India.

 face shield
A prototype of the face shield

Krishna Maruti Limited, a joint venture of Maruti Suzuki, would manufacture three-ply masks for supply to the Haryana and Central governments while MSIL's another JV Bharat Seats would make protective clothing required for medical professionals.

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor has ordered advanced diagnostic testing kits for coronavirus infection from its home country as part of its measures to combat the pandemic. These advanced kits can help serve over 25,000 people.

The doyen of Indian auto sector, Ratan Tata yesterday announced ₹500 crore contribution by Tata Trusts. 

The funds will be used for personal protective equipment for the medical personnel, testing kits to increase testing of possible cases, setting up modular treatment facilities for infected patients, and for the knowledge management and training of health workers and the general public.

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This ₹500 crore will be in addition to Tata Sons commitment of ₹1,000 crore in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. 

"In this exceptionally difficult period, I believe that urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the COVID 19 crisis, which is one of the toughest challenges the human race will face," Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata said in a statement.

The country's largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp has assured its dealers to absorb their unsold BS IV stock. According to estimates, dealers are holding close to 1.5 lakh units of BS-IV stock which remain unsold due to lockdown. With the country accepting BS VI norms from April 1, the dealers won't be able to sell majority of their stock that will lie unsold.

Another two-wheeler major Bajaj Auto has also committed ₹100 crore to assist the administration in containment of the pandemic.