Luxury car maker Automobili Lamborghini is converting parts of its supercar production plant in Bologna to make surgical masks and protective plexiglass shields for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The company's staff members who normally work on car interiors and customisations will produce 1,000 masks a day. Its research and development department will produce 200 3D-printed medical shields – a vital part of the protective gear donned by medical workers – per day in the company’s carbon fibre production plant.
The medical supplies will be donated to the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna, Lamborghini said in a statement.
“During this emergency, we feel the need to make a concrete contribution,” Stefano Domenicali, chairman and chief executive of Lamborghini, said.
“The S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital is an institution with which we have had a collaborative relationship for years, through both professional consultancy in promoting programmes to protect our workers’ health, and in research projects.”
The University of Bologna's Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences will oversee testing of the medical devices made by Lamborghini, prior to delivery to the hospital.
Lamborghini’s move to convert its production plant in Italy to manufacture medical gear comes as the country faces a shortage of essential medical supplies such as masks, shields and ventilators.
Italy's infection rate is the highest in the eurozone, with 105,792 confirmed cases of coronavirus. More than 12,400 have died from the virus, while 15,729 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre, as of Wednesday.
As the pandemic spreads rapidly across Europe and the US, companies from car manufacturers to cosmetics firms are retooling their operations to plug in a shortage of medical supplies across hospitals.
Earlier this week, French cosmetics firm L'Occitane said it started making hand sanitisers at its facilities. The company reassigned some of its facilities in Manosque to produce 70,000 litres of verbena-scented hand sanitiser to donate them to French health authorities and healthcare workers in the country.
In the US, President Donald Trump signed a directive on March 27 ordering automotive giant GM to produce ventilators to help in fighting the pandemic. Fellow car giant Ford has also converted its idle factories to start producing masks while Tesla has confirmed it could pitch in to produce ventilators, if needed.