March 19, 2020 / 4:32 PM / 9 days ago

EXCLUSIVE-Ferrari, Fiat look at helping Italy make ventilators in coronavirus crisis

(Repeats with EXCLUSIVE tag, no changes to text)

By Elvira Pollina and Giulio Piovaccari

MILAN, March 19 (Reuters) - Italian carmakers Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler are in talks with the nation’s biggest ventilator manufacturer to help it boost production of the life-saving machines which are urgently needed in the coronavirus crisis, company officials said on Thursday.

Italy is at the epicentre of the pandemic and its government has embarked on a big expansion of intensive care beds many of which will require ventilators, machines that keep patients alive by taking over the function of breathing for them.

Siare Engineering, based in the northern Italy, the heart of the crisis where deaths are nearing 3,000 and climbing sharply, is in talks with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), Ferrari and Italian parts maker Marelli to make some parts, source others and to possibly help in assembly of ventilators.

Siare Engineering CEO Gianluca Preziosa said the car industry shared some expertise with ventilator manufacturing, with both relying heavily on electronics as well as pneumatics.

“We’re talking to Fiat Chrysler, with Ferrari and Marelli to try to understand if they can lend us a hand in this process for the electronics part,” he told Reuters.

A spokesman for Exor, parent firm of both FCA and Ferrari, said meetings had taken place on Thursday with Siare to study the feasibility of the idea and that a decision was expected in the coming hours.

The spokesman said two main options were being considered: help Siare to engineer a capacity increase at its plant with the support of technicians provided by FCA and Ferrari, or outsource production of ventilator parts to the carmakers’ facilities.

A source familiar with the matter said Ferrari was ready to start manufacturing ventilator parts in its famous Maranello headquarters, which lies close to the Siare factory, but that the luxury carmaker had yet to make a final decision.

Siare CEO Preziosa said another advantage of partnering with car makers was their purchasing power, making them more likely to obtain parts that his small firm was struggling to secure due the pandemic’s disruption of global supply chains. (Editing by Mark Bendeich)

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