GM, Ford Could Help Build Medical Equipment To Combat Coronavirus Outbreak

U.S. auto factories may switch from radiators to ventilators

Yesterday, both GM and Ford announced discussions with the Trump Administration around repurposing their currently idle auto factories to help with the manufacture of medical equipment, such as much need ventilators to help patients sick with coronavirus.

Reuters quoted GM spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan who said the automaker “is working to help find solutions for the nation during this difficult time and has offered to help, and we are already studying how we can potentially support production of medical equipment like ventilators.”

In the same news report, Ford said on Wednesday it “stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment. We have had preliminary discussions with the U.S. government and are looking into the feasibility.”

The move comes on the heels of the U.K. government asking Ford, Honda, and Rolls-Royce, among others to help out with medical supplies earlier this week. In China, Apple‘s manufacturing partner Foxconn and SAIC-GM-Wuling Auto Group has been pumping out masks and medical clothing to support their effort to contain the virus, so it would make sense that GM would understand what it can do to help.

Trump Invokes the Defense Production Act

Last night, Trump, revealed his desire to activate the Defense Production Act, passed in 1950 that allowed to the government to compel manufacturers to supply the Armed Forces with equipment for the Korean War. CNN reported that an executive order issued Wednesday afternoon indicated that the President will use the act to obtain “health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.”

There’s no word yet on how quickly either Ford or GM can adapt their factories to turning out medical supplies and equipment. And right now there’s no word about whether FCA or the Japanese, German, and Korean automakers with U.S. assembly plants will also be brought in to assist.