Trump ordered US General Motors (GM) to produce respirators needed to treat patients with the coronavirus on Tuesday. It is based on the “The Defense Production Act”, which allows president to direct corporate activities in an emergency.
GM announced on the same day that it would start production with medical device manufacturers. Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. announced on the same day that it will support ventilator manufacturers to increase production.
GM will be obliged to prioritize federal orders for production and shipping. Trump criticized the company saying “GM is wasting time,” and called for quick contracts and other procedures.
Prior to Trump’s order, GM announced that it would install respiratory equipment at an Indiana electronics factory. Production will begin at 10,000 units per month from April in partnership with medical equipment maker Ventec Life Systems.
Trump used the The Defense Production Act, enacted during the Korean War in 1950, to secure medical supplies needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, such as respirators and masks. However, he was hesitant to actually give the company specific orders. Prior to the order, Mr. Trump told Twitter that “GM stated that it would supply 40,000 units” very quickly, but they will only be able to make 6,000 ventilators by April, and they are looking for the best price. He accused Mary Barra, the GM CEO, by name.
Toyota produce 3D printed face shields
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corporation announced on March 27 that it will begin supporting production increase for ventilator manufacturers. In addition to providing support for parts supply and distribution in cooperation with two ventilator manufacturers, the company will also set up a dedicated line to respond to requests from other medical device manufacturers for cooperation. Also, from next week, it will produce a simple medical face shield using a 3D printer at a US factory and distribute to hospitals in Texas, Indiana, and Kentucky. The company is preparing for the production of masks that are lacking in the United States, and is looking for suppliers for filters.
Ford Motor Company is also supplying ventilator manufacturers with parts and materials to help boost production.
Tesla donates respirators
Tesla, a major electric vehicle (EV) company, has partnered with Medtronic, a medical device giant based in Ireland, to produce ventilators that the company has developed and designed. Tesla also plans to repurpose a photovoltaic (PV) cell factory in New York State, which has been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, to assemble ventilators.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk said he had begun donating hundreds of ventilators, purchased from existing manufacturers, to hospitals in New York City to meet urgent needs.
Complaints about lack of N95 respirators and ventilators are growing in places such as New York, where many people are infected. President Trump’s decision to give GM an order based on the Defense Production Act seems to be aimed at avoiding criticism by showing the Federal Government’s commitment to securing life saving respiratory devices.