Suzuki Motor said it would suspend operations at its three assembly plants in India for over a week early in May to make available oxygen normally used in car manufacturing to COVID-19 patients in the country.

India’s largest carmaker said production operations at its three plants, in Manesar and Gurugram in the state of Haryana and in Gujurat, would be halted from 1 to 9 May to help the country cope with its growing health crisis.

Suzuki said the stoppage would not affect planned production as it would bring forward scheduled plant maintenance.

The company said in a statement “in the current situation oxygen should be used to save lives”.

It pointed out that in car manufacturing oxygen is used in small quantities in welding but it is used in much larger quantities by suppliers in the production of some components and materials, particularly steel.

Hyundai India said it was spending INR200m (US$2.7m) to install oxygen-generating plants in various hospitals in the country. The company said “the main aim was to help hospitals become self-sufficient in oxygen”.