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Epidemic prompts Chinese carmakers to turn to mask production

(People's Daily Online)    16:49, February 14, 2020

A shortage of face masks has prompted all kinds of Chinese companies from carmakers to smartphone manufacturers to start making their own to help combat the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Photo taken on Feb. 8 shows workers busy with production of medical protective supplies in a workshop of a local company in Xiantao, central China’s Hubei Province. (Hou Linliang/People’s Daily)

Data from Tianyancha, an enterprise data platform, shows that over 3,000 companies in the country have changed their business registration information, and included production of masks, protective clothing, disinfectant liquid and medical apparatus and instruments into their business scope since January.

Auto companies including BYD Co. and SAIC-GM-Wuling, a General Motors Co. venture in China, have reconfigured production lines to churn out masks. Smartphone manufacturer OPPO and iPhone assembler Foxcoon have also joined the fray.

BYD announced it would start mass-producing masks and disinfectant liquid by Feb. 17. The company will produce 5 million masks and 50,000 bottles of disinfectant liquid per day by the end of the month.

SAIC-GM-Wuling said it has built 14 production lines with a daily capacity of 1.7 million masks, including four lines for the N95-type masks urgently needed in hospitals and 10 for ordinary medical masks.

Foxconn’s daily mask production output is expected to reach 2 million by the end of the month. The company will first provide these products to its roughly 1 million workers.

Some companies’ move toward manufacturing medical protective supplies including masks is also a strategy aimed at seizing new market opportunities and realize their transformation, said Zhao Ping, director of the international trade research department under the Academy of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

In fact, some industries are facing increasing downward pressure, Zhao noted, adding that the great demand for masks amid the epidemic presents a new opportunity for many auto makers, as the growth rate of passenger vehicle sales in China was -9.8 percent last year.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

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