General Motors studying whether auto factories can be used to make medical supplies in coronavirus fight

GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra and LG Chem Vice Chairman and CEO Hak-Cheol Shin at the automaker’s battery lab in Warren, Mich., where the companies announced a new $2.6-billion joint venture on Dec. 5, 2019.


General Motors is studying whether it can use its auto factories to ”support production” of ventilators and other medical equipment to help combat the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the nation.

CEO Mary Barra spoke with told the Trump administration Wednesday about the automaker’s decision to pause production, the company said in a statement.

“She also indicated GM is working to help find solutions for the nation during this difficult time and has offered to help, and we are already studying how we can potentially support production of medical equipment like ventilators,” according to the statement.

According to people familiar with Barra’s conversation, GM would not be re-tooling or changing the equipment it uses to build vehicles, but may have extra space in some factories that could be used to manufacture ventilators.

Earlier in the day, GM announced it would be closing its North American factories at least until March 30 and will evaluate the situation on a weekly basis after that. 

White House Economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox News earlier Wednesday that GM has offered to build ventilators. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the state doesn’t have enough ventilators for an expected surge in COVID-19 cases when the virus peaks in about 45 days. The state has 3,000 ICU hospital beds that have the equipment attached to them but is expected to need 37,000.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he signed the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of medical supplies to fill shortages.