Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Premcar Combine to Assist with COVID-19 Treatment

Published: 04 June 2020
Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Premcar engineering and production capabilities to produce the UCL-Ventura CPAP machine.
Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Premcar Combine to Assist with COVID-19 Treatment

Pictured: Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Premcar engineering and production capabilities to produce the UCL-Ventura CPAP machine.

Two of Australia’s biggest automotive rivals, Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Premcar, have come together in response to the current COVID-19 situation, combining to engineer and manufacture a Constant Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine for Australian patients.

After competing head-to-head in the performance vehicle market for 25-years, the coming together is a significant show of unity in a tragic worldwide situation.

They are the businesses behind some of the most renowned performance vehicles in Australian history, such as the HSV GTS and the FPV GT, but now Walkinshaw Automotive Group (the parent company of Holden Special Vehicles) and Premcar, are combining their engineering expertise and production capabilities to assist in a time of need, working quietly in the background to become an approved supplier by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and registering several approved items with the TGA.

There were four key working objectives when the project started:

  • To promote effective solutions for frontline workers, patients, and families to combat the spread and implications of the outbreak.
  • To manufacture an approved item that can be used now and into the future
  • To not choke supply chains by procuring raw materials away from those who have existing tooling for products required in the healthcare industry.
  • To help provide solutions that have little or no impact to current suppliers and assist with repurposing the Australian workforce to build the foundations for economic recovery of the nation.

Australia currently has a surplus of ventilators, so the two companies explored other avenues to provide treatment at an earlier stage. The UCL-Ventura CPAP breathing aid has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help COVID-19 patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily when oxygen via a face mask alone is insufficient. The patient is able to stay conscious and communicative during the treatment.

A CPAP machine delivers constant and steady air pressure to a patient, ensuring their airway doesn’t collapse, and will be commonly used before a ventilator is required, a last resort treatment.

The UCL-Ventura CPAP machine is manufactured in Australia by Premcar and Walkinshaw Automotive Group, under license from University College London and Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Ltd, who designed the product.

The newly designed CPAP machine also has advancements on the delivery to the patient. Officials and scientists have known for years that when used with a face mask, such devices can possibly increase the spread of infectious disease by aerosolizing the virus, whether used in the hospital or at home. Correcting this common issue by adding a filtered exhaust to the mask can help prevent the spread of the virus and protect healthcare workers around the machine.

The UCL-Ventura can be manufactured, tested, and distributed at a rate of 1000 units per month. It can assist with the current COVID-19 situation, but also be used in the future.

To add to this, the CPAP device is only one of the items being created, with one of the TGA certified face shield designs able to be manufactured at a rate of 100,000 per week, repurposing some of the existing production tools across the two businesses.

For more information about the device, please click here.


Ryan Walkinshaw, Director, Walkinshaw Automotive Group

“Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we as a business have been looking at the ways in which we could assist. The need for a quality CPAP machine in Australia was quickly identified, one that not only assists the patient, but could help in protecting the amazing health care workers, who are already facing enough risk as it stands. However, it was essential for us to take our time, and to ensure that an approved product was manufactured.

“It’s been fantastic to work alongside Premcar. Three months ago, you’d never consider working with your biggest rival on a project, but one of the real positives that has come out of this tragedy is the unity between everyone, both locally and globally, to help in any way they can.

“As automotive companies, turning our joint design, engineering, and production capabilities to assist the pandemic has been an extremely rewarding programme, and one that didn’t require too much thought. The engineers and production staff from both organisations have done an incredible job.

“The Australian Government has done a fantastic job in flattening the curve, which has in turn allowed companies across the country to establish solutions and approval for these to go into production. It was essential for us to ensure this was completed properly, with the relevant approvals, before speaking publicly on it.”

Bernard Quinn, Engineering Director, Premcar

“I believe that it is testament to the quality of our culture and leadership in Australia that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a uniting effect on our community. We have seen Federal and State governments work wonderfully together, businesses and employees, and of course many families have become closer as well.

“I am very glad that Premcar and Walkinshaw Automotive Group have come together to work on the CPAP device. To be honest it’s not only been a tremendous outcome from a technical point of view, but the co-operation was an absolute pleasure to be part of. The teams gelled immediately, and the progress was swift.

“I look forward to further collaboration with our old foes from Clayton. I think both parties can benefit enormously from the combined skills and competencies of the two organisations. Perhaps more importantly, so can our customers.”

About Walkinshaw Automotive Group

Walkinshaw Automotive Group is a global leader in the design, engineering, development, and marketing of performance vehicles, and has significant motor sport interests in Australia and the UK. Its broad range of businesses include Holden Special Vehicles, Walkinshaw Performance, New Age Caravans, and the Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars Team.

Walkinshaw also provides consulting engineering and design services to a diverse range of industry participants. Walkinshaw Automotive Group is located in Clayton, Victoria, producing over 5,000 vehicles per year and employing over 300 people.

About Premcar

Premcar is a highly skilled product development and engineering consultancy with a proven track record of product delivery and performance. Established by Prodrive UK in 1996, formerly known as Tickford Vehicle Engineering, the current owners took ownership in 2012 at which point the business name changed to Premcar. The owners have been with the company through all of its history of engineering excellence.

Over a 24-year period, Premcar has delivered high performance Ford vehicles such as the iconic XR6, XR6 Turbo, XR8, F6 and GT. The world class engineering that went into developing those vehicles is now being applied to new and exciting products for various manufacturers in Automotive, Marine, Defence, Mining and Aviation industries. Most recently, Premcar developed the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior, which it now manufactures at its facility in Epping, Victoria.

Premcar is the engineering services provider that meets or exceeds the toughest OEM standards.

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