Since the global pandemic took hold in 2020, we’ve learned a few things. One, motorcycles and scooters are a pretty great way to get around while keeping your distance from other people. Two, different geographic areas go through different viral surges at different times. Just because it’s not that bad wherever you are doesn’t mean that it’s not terrible somewhere else. Three, circumstances can and do change. For example, vaccine rollouts in the U.S. got off to a rocky start, but as of April 22, 2021, about 41 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose.
We’ve seen COVID cases rise and hospitals get overwhelmed in waves, across multiple countries. The U.S., Brazil, Italy, the U.K., France, and Japan all immediately come to mind. In April, 2021, India is currently in the grips of the world’s largest surge. Hospitals and private citizens alike have been taking to social media to plead for oxygen, which is in extremely short supply. If you’ve seen international news in the past two weeks, you’ve no doubt seen at least one story about this incredibly dire and catastrophic situation.
That’s why several of India’s motorcycle and auto manufacturers have announced that they’re shutting down for at least a few days. Industrial oxygen is a key part of component manufacturing in both the motorcycle and auto industries. As of April 29, 2021, there is currently a ban in place on the use of liquid oxygen for industrial applications, in order to divert it to saving lives in the country’s extremely serious fight against the ravages of COVID.
Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India announced that it would close all four of its factories from May 1 through 15, 2021. It plans to perform its annual maintenance tasks during this time, which had previously been scheduled to take place in June. Maruti Suzuki India, the auto manufacturer, is doing the same from May 1 through 9. Currently, that company’s managing director, Kenichi Ayukawa, is hospitalized after testing COVID-positive for a second time.
Hero MotoCorp was first to shut down its factories, announcing a plan to shut each one down for four days at a time, on a rotating schedule, between April 22 and May 1, 2021. Auto manufacturers Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd. and MG Motor both announced additional shutdowns of their own, to help divert much-needed oxygen flows to the humans who need them during this crisis.
There’s no way to overstate the seriousness of this situation. The people of India need as much help as they can get right now. If you want to pitch in, Fast Company has a great list of organizations on the ground you can donate to if you’re able.