General Motors Co (NYSE:GM) and Ford Motor Co (NYSE:F) said Wednesday they are in talks with White House officials about how they can support manufacture of medical equipment needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra spoke to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow about the issue after the Detroit automaker announced it will suspend North American production through 30 March.
A GM spokeswoman said the automaker “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.”
Ford said Wednesday it “stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment. We have had preliminary discussions with the US government and are looking into the feasibility.”
Mr. Kudlow praised the idea of autoworkers producing medical equipment when plans were idled. “That’s the kind of can-do spirit that we are hearing and seeing,” he said.
During WWII, GM, Ford and other automakers retooled auto plants to build tanks, planes and other military equipment and weapons, earning Detroit the nickname the “Arsenal of Democracy.”
As the virus spread across China in February, a number of manufacturers in China including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) partner Foxconn (2317.TW) and SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co Ltd, a joint venture automaker formed by GM and 2 Chinese partners, set up production lines to make masks and medical clothing.
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