Seat switches factory to making ventilators out of car parts

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Spanish car maker Seat has turned one of its factories from a car plant into a ventilator manufacturing facility as part of the fight against coronavirus.

The Martorell factory, near Barcelona, is normally home to production of the Leon hatchback but with car building at a virtual standstill it has been turned over to making prototype ventilators for local healthcare authorities.

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The ventilators are made using up to 80 electronic and mechanical components, including adapted car parts such as windscreen wiper motors, gearbox shafts and printed gears.

“The motivation of everyone participating in this project is that with our know-how we can mass-produce equipment that will save lives,” said Nicolás Mora from the production area of Seat Martorell.

A team of Seat engineers designed 13 different prototypes before the final design was agreed upon. They are now testing the ventilators in collaboration with the local healthcare authority to get approval for mass production.

The ventilators were designed in collaboration with Protofy.XYZ and will be assembled at Martorell by 150 employees whose workstations are being specially adapted for the purpose.

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Sergio Arreciado, a member of Seat’s process engineering team, said: “Taking an assembly line that manufactures subframes, a car part, and adapting it to make ventilators has been a lengthy, difficult job involving many areas of the company, and we managed to do it in the record time of one week."

Seat isn’t the only car maker to turn its engineering expertise and manufacturing capacity over to the fight against COVID-19. Ford and Group PSA are both working with other companies to develop and build ventilators while GM is producing face masks for medical staff.

Lamborghini has also turned its saddlery into a face mask production site and is 3D printing plexiglass protective screens at its Sant Agata factory.

Jaguar Land Rover is lending more than 160 vehicles to emergency services and the Red Cross around the world as well as donating face masks to hospitals in the UK. Also in the UK, MG is temporarily donating 100 ZS EV cars to NHS agencies to keep staff mobile.

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