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UK Government Asks JLR to Investigate Making Ventilators for Covid-19

  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Mar 20, 2020

 

The British Government has asked UK automakers, including Jaguar Land Rover, to make preliminary plans to manufacture ventilators in their factories to help the nation deal with the potential healthcare crisis from the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).

As the Covid-19 crisis builds up globally, with cases in countries previously barely impacted piling up exponentially, life as we know it has ground to a halt. This includes many automotive factories in Europe and the United States, and all of Jaguar Land Rover's plants in both England and Slovakia.

It’s not exactly clear how the Land Rover plant could adapt to make ventilators, nor deal with the various exacting certifications required to make medical equipment, but if there is a will to do so, there will be a way.

The most likely way to direct this would be under instructions from the Ministry of Defence, which would provide an exact specification of how to produce the equipment. It may, however, be difficult for the factories to make the electronic components used in the ventilators.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) currently has 5,900 ventilators, but expects to need 20,000 if the coronavirus pandemic fully manifests in the country into a worst-case scenario.

While it may be difficult to fully switch the factories over to making medical equipment, they may be able to supply extra floor space to medical equipment specialists instead, so that they could increase output.

If it were to be pressed into service, this would not be the first time Land Rover’s Lode Lane factory in Solihull would be manufacturing something other than cars for the good of the nation. The factory was built in 1936 as a “shadow factory” by the British government, in case of war with Nazi Germany. The idea was that automotive firms would move to these factories, in order to produce equipment for war. In 1938, the shell of the original factory was completed, and the facility was mothballed.

When World War II broke out in September 1939, the factory was assigned to Rover for the purpose of building Bristol Hercules aircraft engines. Block 1, the oldest remaining building on the grounds, still has traces of wartime camo paint on its Art Deco façade. It’s also where the original Defenders were made until the bitter end in 2016.


  • Written By
  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Adventure addict. '90s Land Rover daily driver. Historic preservationist. Personal vehicles: 1994 Discovery I, 1994 Range Rover Classic, 1961 Series II.
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