Carmakers with manufacturing operations in Britain have been asked by the government to help make health equipment amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

BMW, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Jaguar Land Rover all have plants in the UK, and the latter has confirmed that it has been approached to help produce ventilators to help with the ongoing crisis.

"As a British company, naturally, we will do whatever we can to support our communities during these unprecedented times," a Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson told Automotive News Europe.

Ford meanwhile said it was keeping an eye on the developing situation – the blue oval has two engine manufacturing plants in Britain that produce over a million engines each year, although one of those factories (Bridgend in Wales) is set to close this year.

Honda and Vauxhall also confirmed that they'd been asked to help produce ventilators.

While it's not known how the car manufacturers can help with producing medical equipment, to help things get going the government could enact defence industry rules which can force factories to produce certain products quickly.

Ford Bridgend

However, Robert Harrison, professor of automation systems at the University of Warwick in central England, has warned that it could be a huge undertaking that could take several months to get going.

"They would have to tool up production lines and train workers to assemble and test the product," he said. "It is crucial that they work correctly in order to keep the patient alive, as these are life-critical pieces of equipment."

Downing Street has confirmed that prime minister Boris Johnson will speak to manufacturers to get support for the manufacturing of vital equipment.

"He will stress the vital role of Britain's manufacturers in preparing the country for a significant spread of coronavirus and call on them to step up and support the nationwide effort to fight the virus," said a Downing Street spokesman.