Fighting Coronavirus Isn’t Just for the Domestics
For some reason, Ford and General Motors’ efforts to fill gaps in the medical supply chain have garnered considerable press. This has a way of happening when the President yells at you in public.
Tesla and Fiat Chrysler have stepped up to the plate to help out, too, filling a need in a country hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. A collective effort is good, but Toyota Motor North America wants others to know it’s a member of the same team. Make use of us, it’s telling others.
With North American production shut down just like the others, Toyota has pivoted to the production of medical equipment — specifically, personal protective equipment (PPE) like face shields and masks, while at the same time laying groundwork for ventilator production.
According to the automaker, 3D-printed face shields, seen below, will begin production next week at an unspecified manufacturing site (that’s almost certainly its San Antonio, Texas plant).
“The first distribution will be to MD Anderson in Houston, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and other hospitals in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan,” the company said in a statement.
Filtering masks will roll out of Toyota facilities just as soon as it finds a partner for that filter, the automaker added, noting that agreements with two companies are now in the finalization stage. Once sealed, the pact will lead to production of much-needed ventilators.
Toyota did not list the two potential partners, nor the exact nature of how it planned to boost output.
“With our plants idled and our dealers focused on servicing customers, we are eager to contribute our expertise and know-how in order to help quickly bring to market the medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the COVID crisis,” TMNA’s incoming CEO, Ted Ogawa, said in a statement. “Our message to the medical equipment community is we are here to help, please utilize our expertise.”
With a significant manufacturing footprint in North America and an incredibly loyal fanbase, seeing Toyota sitting this one out would be unusual. Americans have bought more than 2 million Toyotas per year for six years running, with the automaker’s market share not falling below 12 percent for the last eight.