As the U.S. comes to grips with a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases, General Motors and Ventec Life Systems will move ahead on a deal to produce much-needed ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients.
The deal was originally announced earlier this week, but as we covered previously, it appeared to have stalled as White House officials weighed the price tag. Now, however, General Motors has announced that the deal will in fact move forward.
Working alongside Ventec, General Motors aims to produce tens of thousands of new ventilators. The medical devices are needed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the virus can result in severe respiratory complications. Widespread ventilator shortages have been seen in other countries affected by the virus, resulting in deaths.
General Motors plans to produce the ventilators at the automaker’s facility in Kokomo, Indiana, which previously produced small electronic components for various GM vehicles, including engine, transmission and airbag modules, as well as sensors and circuit board assemblies primarily for the aftersales market. Retooling efforts at the Kokomo facility are already underway, with the first ventilator deliveries expected by next month. GM says it’s possible to ramp up production to 10,000 ventilators per month, and the company is deploying around 1,000 U.S. employees to facilitate production.
“Since Friday, March 20, Ventec and GM teams across manufacturing, engineering, purchasing, legal and others have been tirelessly and seamlessly working together to create and implement a plan for immediate, scaled production of critical care ventilators,” reads a recent GM press release. “The Ventec and GM global supply base developed sourcing plans for the more than 700 individual parts that are needed to build up to 200,000 VOCSN.”
General Motors also says it will launch production of FDA-cleared Level 1 surgical masks at its manufacturing facility in Warren, Michigan. Production will kick off next week, eventually ramping up to 50,000 masks per day in a few weeks’ time. GM expects to be able to produce upwards of 100,000 masks a day at peak production.