DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is using an auto plant in China to make a million face masks a month to donate to first responders and health-care providers in the U.S., CEO Mike Manley said in an email to employees.
Conversion of the plant began Monday and Fiat expects to start production in the coming weeks, Manley said in the email obtained by Bloomberg News. A spokeswoman said that making the masks at a China plant that is up and running is the fastest way to get much-needed supplies to health workers in the U.S.
Automakers have stepped forward to donate their production expertise and factory space to make medical products and help manage the coronavirus pandemic, but it will not happen quickly. Differences in manufacturing requirements, supply chains and skill sets mean ramping up will take time.
In the email, Manley also wrote that Fiat engineers and manufacturing teams and Ferrari employees in Italy are working with Siare Engineering, an Italian respirator company, to more than double their productivity.