Under the automaker’s $490 million contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, General Motors announced Tuesday it had begun to mass produce ventilators to help combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,000 manufacturing team members are working at a repurposed plant in Kokomo, Indiana to deliver units to the national stockpile. From there, they will head out to hospitals that desperately need them, including more than 600 ventilators in April.
By August 2020, GM is under obligation to fulfill a 30,000-unit order, which came as the result of a Defense Production Act contract signed last week. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said as part of an official statement, “Thousands of men and women at GM, Ventec, our suppliers and the Kokomo community have rallied to support their neighbors and the medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic. Everyone wants to help turn the tide and save lives. It is inspiring and humbling to see the passion and commitment people have put into this work.”
GM has worked with Ventec Life Systems since March 17 to determine how best to lend their manufacturing capacity to build ventilators using Ventec’s design. GM said the effort involved sourcing hundreds of parts from suppliers, and figuring out a new manufacturing process using the Kokomo plant as well as a new range of health and safety protocols.
Other automakers have also jumped in to boost supplies to help coronavirus patients and medical personnel. Ford is also producing ventilators with GE Healthcare, and FCA is providing masks and face shields. Hyundai is sponsoring drive-thru testing facilities, while Volkswagen Group is also helping provide personal protective equipment that’s critically needed amid the ongoing crisis.