Japanese carmaker Nissan is looking at manufacturing ventilators, as it confirmed it is halting UK vehicle production for the foreseeable future.
Earlier this week it said its Sunderland plant, which employs 7,000 people and is the largest in the UK, had problems getting parts from China.
Bosses are now considering a government request to help manufacture ventilators for the NHS to combat coronavirus.
The plant made almost 350,000 of Britain's 1.3m cars last year.
A spokesman said the suspension of car production would continue "until further notice", adding it would continue to assess supply chain disruption and market demand.
He said: "Additionally, Nissan is ready to support any initiatives where its manufacturing and engineering expertise can be useful.
"We are looking into the government's request, and will endeavour to support where possible."
What is a ventilator?
- A ventilator is a machine that helps a person breathe by getting oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide
- Ventilators can be used to help a person breathe if they have lung disease or another condition that makes breathing difficult. They can also be used during and post-surgery
- A tube, connected to a ventilator machine, is placed in a person's mouth, nose or through a small cut in the throat (called a tracheostomy)
Nissan's decision to aid ventilator production came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged engineering firms to consider shifting production lines to help the NHS.
Ventilators are vital in the treatment of patients whose lungs have been attacked by the virus.
Nissan has also paused car production at sites in Spain.
The Sunderland plant, which makes the Qashqai, Juke and LEAF models, was opened in 1986 by Margaret Thatcher.