Prodrive’s ventilator project ready for use

The former WRC team is helping Africa's coronavirus fight


Success in Africa is nothing new for Prodrive – the team guided Subaru Impreza WRCs to vicory twice on the Safari Rally in 1997 and 2000 – but rarely has it been quite as important as it is right now.

Prodrive was one of the first motorsport companies to respond to the British government’s March call for assistance in developing medical equipment to help in the fight against coronavirus.

The six-time World Rally Champonship title winner began work on its production solution and in just five weeks, and with staff working round the clock and seven days a week, developed the OVSI (Open Ventilator System Initiative) ventilator in association with Cambridge University.

Prodrive took the original concept from Cambridge University’s Whittle Laboratory and turned it into a working prototype, manufactured and assembled at its Banbury base. With testing completed on a calibrated artificial lung, against the British government’s Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RVMS) specification, it is now ready for the start of the production process.

Manufacturing using medically appropriate materials – but products from outside the medical supply chain to speed delivery – will be led by two South African companies: domestic appliance manufacturer Defy and state-owned business Denel.

It is feared that the scale of COVID-19’s presence in Africa is set to increase, and Prodrive’s ventilator will contribute to solving a potential shortage of such devices on the continent and most importantly save lives.

Prodrive chairman David Richards, said: “I am particularly proud of how our team, who had no previous medical experience, gave their time freely and brought this project to fruition in record time. It’s a true vindication of our strategy of applying a motorsport culture to complex technical challenges that require an innovative approach.”