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Ford, GM and Tesla may make ventilators to combat coronavirus

In a move reminiscent of the World Wars, when America's car factories shifted to producing tanks, bombers and aircraft engines, some US automakers are lookin...

Posted: Mar 19, 2020 2:57 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2020 5:45 PM

In a move reminiscent of the World Wars, when America's car factories shifted to producing tanks, bombers and aircraft engines, some US automakers are looking into making ventilators and other medical equipment to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

A shortage of ventilators has become a growing concern as the number of reported infections increase across the United States. In the most serious cases, coronavirus patients lose the ability to breathe on their own and require a ventilator, which pumps air in and out of the lungs.

'As America's largest producer of vehicles and top employer of autoworkers, Ford stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment,' Ford said in a statement Wednesday night. 'We have had preliminary discussions with the US government and are looking into the feasibility.'

GM also said that it is looking into whether it could produce medical equipment, including ventilators. GM spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan said CEO Mary Barra had been in touch with the White House regarding the possibility. 'GM is working to help find solutions for the nation during this difficult time and has offered to help,' Ginivan said

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has also weighed in. After being pressed on the matter by Twitter users, Musk, who has expressed skepticism over the seriousness of the coronavirus crisis, responded: 'We will make ventilators if there is a shortage.'

New York City mayor Bill DiBlasio tweeted that the city could use Tesla's help with getting more of the devices.

Musk replied, saying his company would connect with the mayor's team to 'understand potential needs.'

Ford and GM have shut down auto production at plants in North America over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. An expected drop in demand for new cars and trucks was also a factor in their decisions.

Tesla, meanwhile, has kept its factory in Fremont, California, running despite a shelter-in-place order in that area.

In the United Kingdom, aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce and vacuum maker Dyson have also been approached about making ventilators to address shortages there.

In total, GM and Ford have 83 factories that are temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus crisis.

Beyond their sheer manufacturing real estate, these huge automakers can also command legions of supplier companies that make plastic and metal parts and electronic components, said Kristin Dziczek, an industry analyst with the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan. They also offer invaluable expertise in working through complex manufacturing and logistical problems.

'There's a whole range of needs we're going to have that the manufacturing might of the automakers could be brought to bear on,' she said.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1973308

Reported Deaths: 51350
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings2611819909
Queens2604189526
Suffolk1913793303
Nassau1753923102
Bronx1731096365
New York1303844306
Westchester1245352236
Erie805561689
Richmond698671740
Monroe599441033
Orange45583782
Rockland45345941
Onondaga35576660
Dutchess27616433
Albany23409343
Oneida21291497
Niagara17888332
Broome17175348
Saratoga14222160
Ulster12835241
Schenectady12289192
Rensselaer10526136
Putnam1007991
Chautauqua8256132
Chemung7068133
Oswego690990
Ontario676591
Steuben6212141
St. Lawrence613794
Sullivan603268
Cayuga581090
Jefferson540863
Wayne515467
Cattaraugus506880
Genesee5014121
Herkimer4883107
Clinton447232
Madison425785
Tompkins401949
Fulton399786
Livingston394358
Montgomery3842114
Columbia380399
Cortland351560
Warren333756
Tioga333358
Wyoming321751
Allegany314183
Otsego313646
Greene308174
Chenango303173
Washington281355
Orleans271683
Lewis242333
Franklin237512
Delaware211936
Seneca185356
Schoharie152015
Essex148926
Yates109826
Schuyler97913
Hamilton3002
Unassigned184111
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