MG Motor India is in talks with three medical device makers, including GE, to produce ventilators at its Halol facility to help meet demand during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a top company official.

The company, which has also launched a hunt for a low-cost ventilator design through a challenge, is also developing its own ventilator and hopes to be ready with a prototype within a week as part of its three-pronged approach to get into ventilator manufacturing considering the shortage during this health crisis.

"We are talking to medical equipment companies like GE and some other companies, which already have established and approved designs. If they can tell us, then we can start manufacturing based on their design in our plant," MG Motor India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba told PTI.

He further said all three companies have responded positively and that can be the fastest solution if there is a design approved by the medical body already and everything is in place.

Besides, he said, "In the last 10 days, our engineering team is busy making a prototype. I'm happy to say that we have already made the drawings and everything. We have talked to the medical experts, our prototype should be ready in the next one week. If that prototype is approved, then our own designed ventilator can be manufactured by MG in India."

However, this approach will take some more time as it needs regulatory approvals, he added.

The company has also announced a Rs 10 lakh grant through its "challenge to youngsters and young engineers that if they want to make a low-cost design, we are going to help them", Chaba said.

On the manufacturing of ventilators, he said MG Motor India will create infrastructure at its Halol facility and would even carve out a separate unit if need be.

"If the car demand is not too much in future then my existing manpower can work on this project. We may have to have some new capex for this kind of a thing, although I don't know exactly how does that look like. But then we will look at putting the right capex into this project to make the ventilators," he said.

On the other hand, Chaba said if the demand for the company's vehicles continues and have waiting period as it is now and "if our people get busy making the cars, I feel we would carve out a separate unit for ventilators."

"If we have to recruit more people, we will do it to have more people into this project because this virus is not going to go away in the next three years or so," he said, stressing that even if vaccines are developed for the coronavirus it is going to take long to make them available at a mass scale.

He further said in India at the moment there is a huge gap between demand and supply for ventilators.

"We don't want to make this as a profit making venture. If we can keep it low cost and operate at breakeven and supply to the community, to the government, it will be a great service," Chaba said. PTI RKL

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