Ford and General Motors are evaluating the possibility of making ventilators amid fears the life-saving devices might become scarce in the U.S. in the COVID-19 pandemic. Ventilators are devices that deliver oxygenated air to the lungs while helping carbon dioxide escape. This technology is vital to save lives, but there is a limited number of ventilator systems available in hospitals.
A statement issued by the Ford Motor Company said, “As America’s largest producer of vehicles and top employer of autoworkers, Ford 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 US government and are looking into the feasibility.”
Similarly, a GM spokesperson confirmed that Mary Barra, the company’s CEO, had called the Trump administration to update them on their decision to suspend production, further noting the company was studying the potential to support the production of medical equipment.
Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla was also available for ventilator production. “Tesla makes cars with sophisticated HVAC systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems. Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly.” Musk wrote.
Similarly, car companies in the UK are also offering to produce ventilators should the need arise. Last week, the British government reached out to firms including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, and Vauxhall to discuss the prospect of manufacturing ventilators.
The fight against the spread of coronavirus is posing an enormous challenge for public health authorities across the globe. And the shortages of respirators and other medical equipment has the government requesting non-medical device manufacturers for possible help in a wartime-like effort.