General Motors will lease its Kokomo, Indiana plant to Ventec Life Systems once its government contract to build respiratory ventilators has expired.
The automaker entered a $490 million contract with the federal government earlier this year to produce 30,000 Ventec V+ Pro ventilators for the national stockpile, which it is currently building at a converted auto electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana. Ventilator production is set to continue at the facility even after the government contract is fulfilled, however, with GM agreeing to lease the building to Ventec Life Systems so it can continue to manufacture the life-saving machines there.
“The entire GM team stepped up and contributed for the greater good, but clearly our focus needs to be on automotive-related manufacturing,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement released this week “Ventec is the expert here. We’re going to step back and they’re going to assume responsibility once the contract is filled.”
GM and Ventec entered preliminary discussions with regard to ventilator production on Tuesday, March 17th and by March 25th, the Kokomo plant was already being transformed from an auto parts plant into a medical supply plant with help from local UAW workers. The first ventilators produced at the facility were shipped out to a number of Chicago-area hospitals in mid-April.
Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple praised GM and his company’s efforts to rapidly ramp-up ventilator production at the Kokomo site even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Until there is a vaccine, critical care ventilators give medical professionals the tools they need to fight this pandemic and save lives,” Kiple said in a statement released in April. “This partnership is a historic effort and a great reminder of what can be accomplished with the power of American innovation and American manufacturing skill uniting together around a singular mission to save lives.”
It’s not clear how much GM plans to lease the Kokomo plant to Ventec for or how long the lease period will last.