From Bentley, to Rolls-Royce and Ferrari, Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader, reports on the chic motor makers going above and beyond their call of duty
With top fashion houses like Burberry using factories to supply the NHS with hospital gowns and masks, and leading beauty brands such as Estee Lauder re-opening manufacturing spaces to answer the global demand for more hand sanitiser, industries across the world are coming up with innovative ways to help the fight against Covid-19.
And the car industry is no different. After governments made a plea for support in tackling the pandemic, brands such as Ford, Nissan and Mercedes rallied together to offer assistance. From switching production to make PPE, to lending cars for delivering food to vulnerable people and creating financial protections to ease the worries of paying customers, here are some of the incredible steps our favourite car brands are taking to tackle the virus:
Besides donating seat covers to brave NHS workers, helping protect surfaces as they travel between hospitals, drop-in centres and home visits, the Cheshire-based car manufacturer has also donated safety glasses, normally used in its wood shop, to its local Leighton Hospital, along with 20,000 pairs of gloves. It is also set to supply as many as 30,000 face shields for employees in all 94 care homes in Cheshire.
The American motor company started making transparent face shields for medical staff way back in March, quickly ramping production up to as many as 75,000 a week in its Detroit factory.
Since the start of the pandemic, Jaguar Land Rover has gifted 160 vehicles, including many of its new Defenders, to the Red Cross in the UK, Spain, South Africa and France to help stop the spread of the virus. It has also loaned vehicles to the NHS and delivered consignments of safety glasses.
Hot on the heels of the outbreak, Italian manufacturer Fiat converted one of its Chinese car factories for the sole purpose of churning out one million face masks a month.
Also leaping into action in the war against Covid-19 is Rolls-Royce, that has been using its fleet of 30 luxury cars, including the ultra-chic Phantom, Cullinan SUV and Ghost, to help deliver food and medical supplies to organisations and key workers near its headquarters in Chichester, West Sussex.
To ease the worries of loan-paying customers, Volvo, like many other car brands, is introducing payment-free loan periods – in other words, a holiday on your monthly car finance payment, akin to the mortgage breaks on offer. The Swedish brand is also showing offers on its website that involve no downpayment – ie no lump-sum contribution to pay up front to start driving the car.
Nissan is also making serious waves at its huge Sunderland factory, turning out as many as 18,000 protective aprons a week for NHS staff. With plans to ramp that figure up massively, the brand is also loaning out courtesy cars to NHS workers, free of charge.
Perhaps the most desirable bit of health technology ever to be handled by doctors and nurses will be the Ferrari respirator valves and fittings for protective masks, which the Italian supercar company is now making at its famous Maranello factory. The parts will be supplied to both healthcare workers and patients, and have the brand’s iconic Prancing Horse mascot stamped on them.
The Agnelli family, who control Ferrari, also made a 10m donation to the Italian authorities dealing with the crisis last month, as well as sourcing 150 ventilators and providing vehicles for the Red Cross.
With the first eight races of the F1 season having been scrapped, the Mercedes Formula One team has been hard at work using its High Performance Powertrains department to make a new breathing aid that can help patients transition from the Intensive Care Unit back onto a ward. It has already been approved for use in hospitals.
Since announcing in March that it was ready to lend its support to the fight against coronavirus by offering its expertise in innovation, design and engineering to the government, the British motor company collaborated with the University of Southampton to develop protective clothing for NHS workers across the UK.