Automakers around the world, faced with government lockdowns and plummeting consumer demand, are dedicating some of their operations to producing badly needed medical equipment in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
But one apparently kept its automotive design and engineering personnel handy, because it recently began delivering vehicles specifically modified to pitch in during the crisis.
Honda, according to Reuters, outfitted 50 minivans with an airtight divide between the front of the vehicle and the rear passengers seats, which would allow drivers in Japan to safely transport sickened patients to the country’s hospitals and quarantine centers.
The modified Odyssey and Step WGN vans also feature a new one-way ventilation system. Fresh air enters the front of the vehicle and passes through to the rear — but the vents prevent air from traveling back into the front and putting the driver at risk.
Honda had delivered two of the vans to health officials in Tokyo as of early this week. The company said it would consider producing more of the customized vans if the need arises — though officials also stressed that the vehicles should not be considered ambulances.