General Motors will officially begin making ventilators at its components plant in Kokomo, Indiana this week and will ship the first 6,000 units to hospitals before June 1st.
GM is making the Ventec Life Systems brand ventilators under a $490M government contract that will see it deliver a total of 30,000 of the life-saving devices before the end of August. According to Automotive News, the government will pay GM “about the price of a Chevrolet Spark,” for each of the ventilators. A Spark is priced from $13,220 in the United States before taxes and destination.
GM workers were already present at the Kokomo components plant last week preparing the site to produce the ventilators. Ventec has had to re-train GM workers on how to make the ventilators, while the automaker has also begun producing the components necessary to put them together. In a statement, GM spokesman Dan Flores told Automotive News the company is not making the ventilators at a profit.
The automaker had previously said it would build Ventec’s VOCSN ventilators under the contract, but it has now gone back on those plans and will instead produce the company’s less complex V+ Pro ventilator. While the V+ Pro ventilator is not as advanced as the VOCSN unit, GM can ramp production of the V+ Pro faster and get them to hospitals in a shorter time. The VOCSN ventilator retails for about $22,000.
Flores also told Automotive News the V+ Pro is still able to help the worst of COVID-19 patients, despite being less advanced than the VOCSN. The V+ Pro is also battery-operated, so it can be used by doctors working in field hospitals that may not have as many readily available power outlets or power sources.
In addition to the ventilators, GM is also making face masks at its Warren Transmission plant in Michigan to help address the PPE supply shortage at many U.S. hospitals. It began shipping the face masks out last week and has since doubled the production output of the masks.
GM has implemented strict safety measures at the Kokomo and Warren facilities to protect employees working there. Employees have their temperature taken with a contactless thermometer upon arriving at the plant and work at spaced out work stations. The work stations and common areas are also sanitized and wiped down every few hours.
Source: Automotive News