American Honda delivered 10 Odyssey minivans to the city of Detroit today, each one modified to enable the safe transport of potential COVID-19 patients to medical locations for testing and/or treatment.
Engineers in Raymond, Ohio, modified the ventilation systems in the Honda Odysseys to maintain an air-pressure differential between the front and rear seats, as well as installed plastic barriers behind the front seats with an aim to better protect drivers and health-care workers from becoming infected with the novel coronavirus.
Honda engineers in Japan in April designed the system for domestic-market minivans to be used to transport coronavirus patients in the Tokyo area. News of the JDM Honda minivans led the city of Detroit officials to contact the automaker about the potential for such a system in the U.S. As of Monday, Michigan counted 43,950 confirmed coronavirus cases, the majority in the Metro Detroit area, making it a hot spot for the disease in the United States.
The engineers at Honda Research & Development in Ohio brought the Odyssey minivan modifications from initial concept to completion in less than two weeks, the automaker says. The North American market Honda Odyssey is a larger minivan than the JDM minivan used in Tokyo.
Honda joins other automakers in assisting during the pandemic, which has seen global vehicle production largely halted for several weeks. Ford, for example, is using some of its facilities to produce medical ventilators, masks, face shields, medical gowns, and other equipment, as has General Motors.
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