SAIC-GM-Wuling, General Motors’ light-vehicle joint venture with SAIC, became the first auto manufacturer to build machines to produce face masks, helping China to combat the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the company said.
The first machine to be used to produce face masks, developed by the company’s engineers, rolled off a production line at one of its plants in the southwest China city of Liuzhou on Wednesday.
SAIC-GM-Wuling is also producing face masks and additional machines will enable it to more quickly ramp up output of the protective gear, SAIC-GM-Wuling said on social media.
China is struggling to contain the epidemic, which broke out in January, and faces a severe shortage of equipment to build face masks.
The automaker expects to install 15 new fully automated face-mask production lines in the plant by the end of the month, SAIC-GM-Wuling said.
GAC Motor Co. and BYD Co. are also producing face masks with equipment purchased from external suppliers.
In addition, GAC and Geely Automobile Holdings are upgrading in-vehicle air filtration systems to help protect passengers from the viral outbreak.
The upgraded filtration system matches the effectiveness of an N95 face mask, the two companies said.
N95 masks, typically used by medics, are designed to block more than 95 percent of particles measuring 0.3 microns and above.