German auto supplier and technology company Bosch has developed a rapid coronavirus test which it intends to produce more than a million of this year, increasing to three million next year.
The rapid test is already being delivered to European customers with a ‘research only’ label, and can be used following validation.
Bosch expects to have a CE mark for the product by the end of May and an even faster test, which can reliably detect Covid-19 cases in less than 45 minutes, is in the final stages of development.
Bosch has also developed a Vivalytic analysis device to be used initially in hospitals and doctors’ offices to protect medical staff for whom the rapid availability of test results in less than two and a half hours is crucial.
“Wherever possible, we want to contribute our expertise to efforts to contain the pandemic, for instance through our newly developed rapid Covid-19 test and our Vivalytic analysis device,” Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner said yesterday at the company’s annual press conference.
“Demand is huge. We’re doing everything we can to significantly increase production and will increase capacity five-fold over our original plans by the end of the year.”
Bosch has already started the production of face masks with 13 of the company’s plants in nine countries making the product for local requirements.
In addition, the company is currently setting up two fully automatic production lines at its Stuttgart-Feuerbach, Germany location with further lines to follow at its German Erbach location as well as in India and Mexico.
“It took our special-purpose machinery unit just a few weeks to design the necessary machinery,” Denner said.
Bosch has also made the designs available to other companies free of charge. This means the company will be able to manufacture more than 500,000 masks per day.
In view of the coronavirus pandemic, Bosch anticipates considerable challenges for the global economy in the current business year.
“We are bracing ourselves for a global recession that will also have a considerable impact on our own performance in 2020,” said Prof. Stefan Asenkerschbaumer, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chairman of the Bosch Board of Management.
Based on the effects known to date, Bosch said it currently expects automotive production to fall by at least 20% in 2020.
In the first quarter of this year, Bosch Group sales fell by 7.3%, meaning they are already considerably lower year on year. Sales dropped by 17% in March 2020 alone.
“A supreme effort must be made to achieve at least a balanced result,” Asenkerschbaumer said. “In this severe crisis, it is again an advantage for us that we are so diversified, with different business sectors.”