President Donald Trump praised General Motors for its efforts to produce ventilators during a press conference on Sunday. The remark came days after he lambasted the automaker over how much it was asking for the devices and how long it would take to produce them.
GM is working with Ventec Medical Inc. to produce one of its critical ventilator devices, which will be shipped to New York and other parts of the country where the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hardest. The automaker is currently converting its components plant in Kokomo, Indiana to produce the ventilators and says the facility will have a production capacity of more than 10,000 ventilators per month “with the infrastructure and capability to scale further.”
In a tweet published Thursday, Trump criticized GM for claiming that it was able to provide “40,000 much needed ventilators, ‘very quickly’,” before allegedly walking back those claims to say it will “only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.” He then threatened to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would enable him to force GM or any other company to fulfill orders deemed necessary for national defense – in this case making ventilators.
Later that day, GM laid out its complete plan to produce the Ventec ventilators at the Kokomo facility and also produce FDA-cleared Level 1 surgical masks at its manufacturing plant in Warren, Michigan. In a statement, GM CEO Mary Barra said the COVID-19 pandemic has “rallied the GM enterprise and our global supply base to support Ventec, and the teams are working together with incredible passion and commitment.”
“I am proud of this partnership as we work together to address urgent and life-saving needs,” Barra added,
GM says its FDA-cleared ventilators are scheduled to start shipping by mid-April. Ford has also partnered with GE to produce ventilators, however the Dearborn-based company is not expected to start churning out the devices until June.
GM has been working at a rapid pace behind the scenes to quickly set up and scale production of the Ventec ventilators, Gerald Johnson, the automaker’s global vice president of manufacturing, told Automotive News in an interview.
“The speed has been challenging,” Johnson said. “But we know it will save thousands of lives. Making cars is cool, but it doesn’t compare to what we’re doing.”
Source: Automotive News