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Ford asked to build ventilators in UK to help combat coronavirus

Ford says the UK government has asked for assistance and the automaker is considering how it could feasibly help those who suffer serious COVID-19 complications.

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Ford sounds like it's ready to step up.

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As governments work to fight the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, automakers are figuring out how they can pitch in to do their part.

Autocar first reported on Monday that the UK government has contacted various automakers with manufacturing capabilities in the country to ask for assistance in producing ventilators, medical machines that help patients breathe. Ford, Honda and Toyota each confirmed with the publication the government had been in contact over ventilator production.

A Ford of Britain representative confirmed the government has been in contact with the automaker and said, "Ford has received the ventilator specification from the government and is considering production feasibility."

Honda also confirmed discussions with Roadshow. "We have been contacted by the government about the feasibility of Honda supporting the manufacture of additional ventilators," a Honda UK representative said. "We have identified some potential areas where we may be able to provide support and have communicated this to government."

Toyota did not immediately respond to our request for comment, but told Autocar in a statement the company would be "more than willing" to investigate how it can assist during the pandemic.

Ford operates three production plants in the UK and it hasn't said where the automaker may begin ventilator production, should it give the green light.

The UK government said in a statement Monday, "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." It called on businesses to join together in the collective effort to halt COVID-19 in its tracks.

In the US, Elon Musk has offered his companies' services to build ventilators as numerous states have taken drastic measures to "flatten the curve" and stop the spread of the virus. General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler joined together with the UAW to begin a task force to support production workers. Although Ford and FCA did not add details, GM told Roadshow actions will include shifting production schedules and cutting overtime to make room for extra cleaning and disinfecting.

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First published March 17.