The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the U.S., while automakers have pulled back their previous financial forecasts and bolstered their cash reserves to weather the sudden shock the industry’s currently facing. Now, as companies like General Motors and Ford idle their car production through at least the end of March, both companies are lending their manufacturing and design capacity to help prevent the virus from spreading any faster.
Today, Ford announced it is working with GE Healthcare and 3M to aid medical workers. One of the main concerns lies with the ongoing availability of critical supplies, including ventilators and face shields, both of which can keep healthcare personnel from getting sick. Dubbed “Project Apollo”, Ford executives said the company plans to use the tools at its disposal to provide equipment to doctors and nurses this week. Executive chairman Bill Ford said of the initiative, “We were the arsenal of democracy during two world worlds. We built lungs for polio patients. Whenever we’re called on, we’re there.”
To that end, Ford said it would be able to produce 1,000 respirators per month. The company also plans to produce 100,000 face shields per week, using 3D-printed parts and things like fans from the F-150’s ventilated seats and portable tool battery packs to produce ventilators.
CEO Jim Hackett spoke on CBS This Morning discussing the company’s ventilator production. In addition to the partnership with 3M, Ford’s part in helping GE Healthcare is to build even more ventilator’s using a derivative of GE’s design. That way, the company says they can produce equipment at a GE facility and Ford’s own manufacturing plants. The company plans to ramp up production between now and June 2020.
GM also joins the effort
On Monday, GM announced a partnership with Ventec Life Systems, also to produce respiratory care products. Ventec will have access to GM’s supply lines to build more critical ventilators, again to ship out to healthcare facilities that are increasingly strained by coronavirus cases. CEO Mary Barra said of the development, “We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis.”
As of March 23, 2020, more than 46,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. World Health Organization officials noted the country is seeing a “large acceleration” in viral infections, and several states have issued stay at home or “shelter-in-place” orders to slow the spread. By practicing social isolation, governments hope to avert further crisis by overburdening a healthcare system that’s already seeing intense pressure under the current wave of COVID-19.
Editor’s note: While we strive to bring you the ongoing developments, we’d also like to urge people to practice social distancing, where possible to stay healthy. For our part, we’ll continue to report on the news and produce solid video content as we can, and we hope you’ll stay with us through this tough time. We’ll all get through this together — thank you all for your support!