In a memo to employees, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) announced that the company will soon begin producing face masks for healthcare workers at a factory in Asia.
CEO Mike Manley told FCA employees that one of the group's factories in Asia is being converted to produce masks and is targeting production of one million masks per month within weeks, according to a Reuters report.
Personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, including masks, is in critically short supply in countries that are scrambling to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Separately, FCA said over the weekend that it will allow more of its Michigan workers to work from home beginning today. It did not confirm a Detroit Free Press report that the decision followed the death of an employee who had contracted COVID-19.
The move to manufacture masks is part of an ongoing effort by FCA and its former subsidiary Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) to find ways to help boost production of urgently needed healthcare equipment. Both companies have facilities in northern Italy, an area hit especially hard by the pandemic.
FCA and Ferrari are reportedly in talks with Siare Engineering, a Bologna-based manufacturer of hospital ventilators, to help it double production of the machines. Ventilators are in short supply amid the pandemic: People with severe cases often need the machines to help them continue to breathe while their bodies fight off the virus.
Both FCA and Ferrari are controlled by Exor (OTC:EXXRF), the investment company of Italy's Agnelli family. John Elkann, a descendent of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli, serves as chairman of all three companies.