While major automakers produced ventilator production during the COVID-19 pandemic, the spirit of vital aid is supported by luxury and performance carmakers as well. Here are the stories with high-octane inspiration.
Defenders on the Front Line
The long-anticipated new iteration of Land Rover’s Defender has fascinated purist off-roaders, and now there’s an even more compelling reason to fall for this SUV: Parent company Jaguar Land Rover has deployed a global fleet of over 160 vehicles (including 27 Defenders) to emergency response organizations for front-line support. The vehicles are now employed by agencies such as the British Red Cross and National Health Service, as well as the Red Cross in Australia, continental Europe and Africa. And the plan is to deploy even more rugged vehicles over the course of the crisis. “Thanks to Land Rover’s generous support, our emergency response teams… will be able to reach even more people living in isolated communities than we could alone,” says Simon Lewis, head of crisis response for the British Red Cross. It’s only fitting some of the first people to drive this new SUV will be putting it to undeniably good use.
Ford (ford.com) and General Motors are dedicating serious assembly line resources to produce both simplified and high-level ventilators for hospitals treating patients with COVID-19. GM is manufacturing more complicated ventilators on behalf of Ventec Life Systems, ramping up to an expected volume of 10,000 powered ventilators per month. Ford was in early on efforts to make masks and hoods for healthcare workers, and is now also producing simplified ventilators for General Electric that do not require electricity. Paid volunteer workers at Ford’s component factories in Ypsilanti, Mich., are working around-the-clock to achieve a volume of 30,000 per month. “Our decision to select Ford was based specifically on speed and our ability to increase capacity as fast as we could,” says Tom Westrick, vice president and chief quality officer for GE’s healthcare division.
Porsche has donated $1 million to United Way.
Porsche: Global and Local
Of course carmaker Porsche Cars North America is enabling new levels of customer and retailer support via expanding online retail options, extending customer lease payments, and offering home pickup and drop-off, among other strategies. In addition, Porsche’s AG corporate donations to charities addressing the needs of people impacted by the virus have expanded to $5 million. “In these times of crisis, we are painfully aware that many food banks receive hardly any food donations,” says Porsche AG CEO Oliver Blume. “That is why we are doubling our donations to them, so that people can continue to be supplied with food.” Porsche Cars North America doubled another donation when it matched a $500,000 winning bid on a 911 Speedster—the last-ever 991 generation to enter and pass down the serial production line—during a charitable auction hosted by RM Sotheby’s in late April. A total of $1 million will be donated to United Way to aid its COVID-19 relief work in the U.S.
R&D staff at Lamborghini are busy making Plexiglas medical shields, while upholstery workers have pivoted to surgical mask production.
Light From Lamborghini
The artisans and technicians at Lamborghini’s Sant’Agata Bolognese factory in Italy who typically spend their days crafting fine leather interiors and upholstery and conducting design R&D are now producing surgical masks and Plexiglas shields for healthcare workers—at a rate of 1,000 masks and 200 shields per day. “During this emergency,” says Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali, “we feel the need to make a concrete contribution. We will win this battle together by working in union, supporting those who are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic every day.”