FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group is joining other manufacturers round the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators to combat the coronavirus.
Governments are enlisting automakers including Ford, General Motors, Ferrari and Nissan to ramp up production of ventilators and other equipment they are short of to treat the fast-spreading disease.
In a statement on Friday, VW said it had assembled a task force to see how it can use 3D printing to help manufacture hospital ventilators and other life-saving equipment.
VW has more than 125 industrial 3D printers. The company is testing materials and checking supply chains, it said.
"Medical equipment is a new field for us. But as soon as we understand the requirements, and receive a blueprint, we can get started," VW said, adding that prototype components had been printed and its Skoda unit was included in the project.
A VW spokesman said the automaker was in close contact with governments and other authorities to assess needs.
VW Group's Bentley ultraluxury brand also offered support. "When needs must, we can perform and I'm sure the same would be true for ventilators ... if we were given the right brief and opportunity to do so," Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark told Reuters.
VW's sports car brand, Porsche, also said on Friday it wanted to help in relief efforts.
"We are collecting ideas about what we could do in terms of humanitarian help," CEO Oliver Blume said on a call to discuss earnings.
BMW said it too was ready to help. "The production of components using 3D printing technology is a possibility," it said.
General Motors said it was working with Ventec Life Systems to enable the medical device maker to leverage the U.S. automaker's logistics and expertise to build more ventilators.
"We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," GM CEO Mary Barra said.