Fiat Chrysler starts ventilator component output in Italy

FILE PHOTO: A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sign is at the U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S. May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler (FCA) FCHA.MIFCAU.N has begun producing ventilator parts to help Italy's Siare Engineering boost its output of the medical equipment needed to treat patients during the coronavirus crisis, the carmaker said on Friday.

Carmakers around the world are ramping up production of critical healthcare products and machines to respond to the enormous demand during the pandemic.

Italy, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Europe, had asked Siare to triple its normal monthly production as a part of government efforts to increase the number of intensive care beds.

FCA said that with the support of luxury group Ferrari RACE.MI and holding company Exor EXOR.MI, which controls both carmakers, it had produced the first electrovalves, a key part in ventilators, at its plant in Cento, in northern Italy.

The Cento plant is usually used to produces high-performance car engines for the global market. It had been closed because of the coronavirus but has partially reopened for this project.

“With the additional supply of electrovalves from Cento, Siare estimates that it will be able to reduce total production time for ventilators by as much as 30-50%”, the statement said.

In addition to the production of the electrovalves, a team of specialists from FCA is also working alongside Siare staff at their production facility near the city of Bologna.

“The objective is to help increase Siare’s total production, with a gradual scaling up of daily output beginning from the first week of April”, FCA said.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Keith Weir