Car companies in the US and UK are offering up their manufacturing plants for the production of ventilators, in a bid to assist with growing shortages imposed by the coronavirus crisis.
The movement started when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on local manufacturers to mobilise in order to increase output of the units, which are an essential for critical coronavirus patients who require breathing assistance.
The UK's Financial Times reported that in a conference call with heads of big engineering companies, the Johnson said more than 20,000 ventilators need to be created "from scratch".
“As a British company, naturally, we will do whatever we can to support our communities during these unprecedented times,” a Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Calling all manufacturers who can support our National Effort for #coronavirus ventilator production - to help, contact Government Business Support team: 0300 456 3565 / firstname.lastname@example.org— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) March 16, 2020
GM CEO Mary Barra was reportedly the first to suggest the idea in the US, prompting Tesla CEO Elon Musk to swiftly follow suit.
Barra said GM could "use some of its excess factory space to build ventilators and has people looking into how that would be done" in a private conversation, Bloomberg reported.
When Twitter users urged Musk to follow suit, he tweeted that Tesla was also available for ventilator production.
"Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems. Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly. Which hospitals have these shortages you speak of right now?" Musk wrote.
We will make ventilators if there is a shortage— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
Ford also offered their services in a statement, saying: "As America’s largest producer of vehicles and top employer of autoworkers, Ford stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment."
GM and Ford have both temporarily halted manufacturing work in the US, while Tesla only recently agreed to suspend production at its California factory after initially resisting calls to close.
Some manufacturing executives (who are not necessarily from the car sector) have reportedly expressed concerns over creating ventilators "from scratch" without a certified, licensed design, telling the Financial Times they can't just "make one up".
While UK PM Johnston and US President Donald Trump are both yet to officially take up any of the companies on their offers, the notion is reminiscent of Detroit's auto manufacturers mobilising to create army vehicles during World War Two.
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