As the dreadful second wave of COVID-19 sent the nation reeling, the automotive industry, once again, rushed to help in these extremely trying times.
The second wave of the COVID pandemic in India was one of the most dangerous and tragic events in Indian history. The new strain of virus caused an unexpected and unprecedented surge in the number of cases, leaving the country’s health infrastructure stretched to its limits and in need of all the help that it could get. While a lot of attention was given to the help arriving from foreign shores, not much was said about the Indian automotive industry, which also did a significant amount of heavy lifting in providing COVID relief to people and, more importantly, assistance to the government and authorities in dealing with the crisis.
Of course, the most straightforward method for companies to provide assistance was to offer financial aid to the national and state governments, and virtually all automakers did so at the time of dire need. These aids enabled governments to spend more to help people not just in term of medical assistance but also in terms of providing them economic support, especially when so much of the country was under lockdown and the economic conditions – particularly of the financially stressed sections of society – were quite dire.
While the financial contribution was necessary, it wasn’t sufficient, for there was a severe shortage of basic supplies, such as medical equipment and testing kits, in the country. And once again, multiple automakers helped across the country in this regard. Maruti Suzuki, for instance, set up a super speciality hospital in Gujarat to medically assist the people. It also actively helped companies in scaling up their oxygen production capabilities to deal with the oxygen crisis in the country.
Hyundai India also ran an extensive campaign to donate large numbers of urgently-needed equipment to various states, including much-needed oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and Bipap machines. It also set up oxygen plants at various locations. Meanwhile, MG India provided various units of the Hector, which were modified to be used as ambulances by hospital and frontline staff in carrying out vital duties. Similarly, Hero MotoCorp provided two-wheelers that could be used as ambulances in difficult-to-access rural areas and also made a major financial donation for COVID relief efforts.
Other companies that were active in their assistance with COVID relief included Kia Motors India, FCA (Jeep India), Mercedes-Benz India, BMW India, and Skoda-VW India. In fact, virtually the entire automotive industry pitched in to help the country recover from this crisis. There is no doubt that the automotive industry is one of the most important pillars of the Indian economy and future growth, and its responsible and active participation, especially in the time of crisis, shows that the Indian automotive industry is also a vital part of India’s social system. And with all automotive brands undertaking the responsibility of vaccinating not just their employees but also family members of their employees, there is no doubt that the industry is committed to helping the nation mitigate this unprecedented crisis.