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Volkswagen Group’s Leadership On Coronavirus: Cash, Cars, Respirators, Ventilators, Masks, & More

Like some other automakers, Volkswagen Group hasn’t been sitting idly and waiting to reopen the many factories the conglomerate owns and runs. Instead, the auto giant has been contributing a large amount of money and varied resources in Europe to help out, including developing and supplying critical medical supplies and even medical staff.

Like some other automakers, Volkswagen Group hasn’t been sitting idly and waiting to reopen the many factories the conglomerate owns and runs. Instead, the auto giant has been contributing a large amount of money and varied resources in Europe to help out, including developing and supplying critical medical supplies and even medical staff.

Image courtesy Volkswagen Group

Audi contributed €400,000 to Ingolstadt Hospital and another €200,000 to the SLK Hospitals in Heilbronn on March 30. In addition, it provided 15,000 medical masks.

Audi is also going to provide a live concert to the world on April 14, streamed over the internet of course, while contributing further financial aid. “When it counts, the world moves closer together. In the corona crisis, Audi is supporting medical and social institutions in its home regions and providing humanitarian aid at the national and international level. The company is providing five million euros in emergency aid for this purpose.” That €5 million is on top of the €400,000 mentioned above.

Image courtesy Volkswagen Group

Automobili Lamborghini is now producing face masks and plexiglass shields for medical personnel to use. The Italy-based company underneath the large Volkswagen Group umbrella is donating these supplies to a local hospital in Italy, where it is well known that lack of supplies and a horrendous coronavirus outbreak have led to a relatively high proportion of COVID-19 linked deaths. “Automobili Lamborghini is converting departments of its super sports car production plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese in order to produce surgical masks and protective plexiglass shields. The masks will be donated to the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna to be used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The particular arm of the company working to produce these supplies “personnel of the saddlery that produce the interiors and specialty customization for Lamborghini cars.” They are contributing 1,000 masks per day and 200 medical face shields per day created with 3D printers. The Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of the University of Bologna is partnering on this effort by providing validation testing before delivery to the hospital.

Image courtesy Volkswagen Group

In a move providing emotional and cultural support, Lamborghini combined these efforts with a simple one — it is lighting up its headquarters in the colors of the Italian flag.

Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, commented on the company’s efforts to help in this time of crisis: “During this emergency, we feel the need to make a concrete contribution. The S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital is an institution with which we have had a collaborative relationship for years, through both professional consultancy in promoting programs to protect our workers’ health, and in research projects. We will win this battle together by working in union, supporting those who are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic every day.”

Image courtesy Volkswagen Group

ŠKODA’s carsharing platform HoppyGo offered 200 vehicles and 150 electric scooters to charities, volunteers, and municipalities free of charge.

ŠKODA staff also worked with researchers at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) of the Czech Technical University in Prague to create a 3D printing process for the production of FFP3 respirators. “Not only do these masks boast the highest level of protection but thanks to their replaceable filter, they can also be reused. ŠKODA funded their development too, and production is already running at top speed following the respirators’ certification a few days ago. The produced masks are delivered to the Czech Ministry of Health straight away, and are then distributed to hospitals and doctors. At present, around 60 respirators are produced at ŠKODA AUTO each day; the project is also supported by Czech universities and private companies that have similar printers, leading to a total daily output of several hundred masks.”

ŠKODA is also contributing around $400,000/€360,000/10 million Czech koruna in direct financial aid.

Image courtesy Volkswagen Group

SEAT “is collaborating with the healthcare system by making automated ventilators with adapted windscreen wiper motors.” Together, 150 company employees developed 13 prototypes before settling on a specific design for final testing and production. “The SEAT Leon line at the Martorell plant is almost unrecognisable. Today, cars are no longer being made; instead, automated ventilators are being produced to collaborate with the healthcare system in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.” Several companies and non-corporate partners were involved in the effort: Protofy.XYZ, CMCiB, University of Barcelona, Recam Laser, Doga Motors, Luz Negra, Ficosa, Bosch, IDNEO, Secartys, and LCOE. Talk about a show of solidarity.

Image courtesy Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen urgently got €40 million worth of medical products from China to Germany to help doctors and nurses running out of critical supplies — “face masks, gloves, disinfectants, clinical thermometers, protective goggles and protective clothing.” The company moved/donated 400,000 face masks alone, which added onto 200,000 donated the week before. Check out an interesting story about that and a key logistics person here.

Volkswagen noted that it has 130,000 employees in Lower Saxony, and 3,500 suppliers as well. The company knows that protecting and helping the medical staff in its home region and country is critical to protecting and helping its own employees.

Furthermore, something that never crossed my mind, Volkswagen itself has medical staff on the payroll — and additional staff with medical qualifications. Something unique the company did is it released those people for up to 15 days to volunteer their time working on the societal front lines to provide public health services — while being paid as full-time staff for Volkswagen. “The target group includes medical practitioners and paramedics of various categories as well as nursing and surgery personnel working at the German facilities of Volkswagen AG. In addition to people working in these areas for Volkswagen, employees with appropriate qualifications who work as paramedics on a voluntary basis, for example, will also be released if the need arises,” Volkswagen wrote.

Volkswagen HR Board Member Gunnar Kilian says: “Employees in hospitals, surgeries and the emergency services are performing an outstanding service to society as a whole in the fight against corona. They urgently need our full support and solidarity. This also includes personnel support. For this reason, the Board of Management has decided to release our employees with medical qualifications for supporting missions in the public health service in an unbureaucratic way without any loss of income for them.”

All of this follows Volkswagen, Porsche, ŠKODA AUTO, Scania, TRATON GROUP, Bentley Motors, Bugatti, and MOIA shutting down normal operations on March 17–20. Automobili Lamborghini did so on March 13.

If you have more positive stories to share about companies helping out during the coronavirus pandemic, please do.

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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