Tesla and other US Car Companies Suspend EV Plants — GM Will Make Ventilators and Masks

Photo: GM and Ventec

The President late on Friday finally used his Defense Production Act authority to order General Motors to begin to make ventilators, and the CEOof Tesla, Elon Musk, said the company’s New York electric vehicle factory will reopen in order to make ventilators and will also purchase and donate devices to the New York hospitals. Musk tweeted on Wednesday that “Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”  Tesla and GM were both forced to shut down plants because of coronavirus, according to Elektrek.com, with GM in the midst of retooling their Detroit-Hamtramck plant for EVs, and Tesla starting deliveries of the highly anticipated Model Y.

Why This Matters:  EV manufacturing shutdowns particularly impact the next wave of EVs that were about to start to roll off the assembly line – such as Volkswagen’s ID.3 and Tesla’s Model Y. All the major auto companies have offered to assist making ventilators but so far only GM has been ordered to do it. Ford was in talks as of Friday afternoon with the Trump administration seeking guidance on manufacturing and distributing certain products, including ventilators.

Why GM?

According to The New York Times, the government and GM had agreed to a deal on the production of up to 80,000 ventilators but that it fell through when FEMA got cold feet due to the price tag of more than $1 billion.  GM announced it is working with ventilator manufacturer Ventec, which is hoping to ramp up from a few hundred to producing as many as 10,000 ventilators a month, in part due to a new assembly line being set up at a GM facility in Indiana, The Wall Street Journal reported.  The President lashed out at both Ford and GM in tweets, but only used the Act to order GM into production.  GM says that its partnership with Ventec combines the two companies’ global expertise in manufacturing quality and commitment to safety to produce ventilators as rapidly as possible.

In addition, GM announced it is converting a plant in Warren, Michigan to build Level 1 surgical masks. This was an employee-led initiative  — created, planned and approved in about 48 hours and involves GM’s traditional supply base as well as new partnerships specific to the medical device industry with set to start next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day depending upon the availability of materials to build the masks.

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