By on March 23, 2020

cami assembly factory

Much talk has been made over the past week of turning the auto industry’s manufacturing might into a so-called Arsenal of Health. In the U.S. and Canada, federal governments have turned to automakers for production of much-needed ventilators to save lives of coronavirus patients. Meanwhile, breweries and distilleries have swapped to hand sanitizer production.

Turning on a dime to crank out ventilators and face masks isn’t an overnight proposition, but an emergency effort to expand the availability of life-saving supplies would go a long way to save lives. The Detroit Three are already on it. Tesla, too.

All four automakers have idled production — or are in the process of doing it — at domestic plants, with those facilities tapped for a deep cleansing and eventual reappraisal. The shutdown could go longer than initially planned.

Rather than roll out the Defense Production Act, President Trump instead appealed to companies to turn their focus to the production of much-needed health supplies and ventilation apparatus. In General Motors’ case, the appeal wasn’t needed. On March 20th, the automaker announced a partnership with Ventec Life Systems.

“Ventec will leverage GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more of their critically important ventilators,” the supplier said in a statement.

According to Reuters, Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley reportedly told employees that a Chinese plant will be tapped to make face masks for healthcare workers. UILM union representative Gianluca Ficco told the outlet that Manley envisions production of one million masks a month. Already, Fiat, as well as Ferrari, were in talks with Italian ventilator manufacturer Siare Engineering to help double that company’s output.

Ford claims it is in talks with British and American health suppliers, and could involve itself with ventilator production. The company “stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment,” a Ford spokesperson told dbusiness. Both the Blue Oval and GM are reported to have spoken with White House officials about building such supplies.

As reported by USA Today, on Sunday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had cleared the way for quicker approval of medical devices.

On Saturday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who reluctantly agreed to shut down his Fremont California plant after wrangling with local-through-federal officials, tweeted that his company was in discussion with supplier Medtronic.

Late yesterday, Musk tweeted that a shipment of N95 face masks donated to badly-hit states was being held up at LAX, prompting a response from the airport. It seems the shipment eventually cleared. As well, Musk, who infamously downplayed the coronavirus pandemic in a tweet a few weeks ago, said Tesla and SpaceX would put 1,2000 ventilators into production this week.

Time will tell whether companies normally tasked with building cars can get in gear and boost ventilator output in sufficient numbers to prevent a situation like that seen in Italy, where a shortage of ICU beds and ventilators forced doctors to choose which critical patients received life-saving care. The country’s COVID-19 death toll has since surpassed China’s.

North of the border, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a similar appeal to his country’s manufacturing base. There, auto parts manufacturers are mulling the feasibility of swapping to ventilator production, with obtaining the necessary engineering specs being part of that process. There’s also the thorny issue of intellectual property laws.

“If we can get the drawings and the technical guidance, we’re ready and willing to help,” Rob Wildeboer, executive chairman of Martinrea International, told the Financial Post.

[Image: General Motors]

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58 Comments on “Detroit Three, Tesla Leverage Suppliers, Know-how to Bolster Health Production...”

  • avatar

    I don’t trust anything the Detroit 3 put out, if they end up making anything, the product would probably fall apart from the cheap stuff they’d use.

  • avatar

    Sic transit gloria mundi.

  • avatar

    By not evoking the DPA it’s more proof that Trump is spineless and doesn’t care if people die, he only cares about company profits and the stock market.

    Thanks to him the United States is on track to surpass China in confirmed cases of CORVID-19.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s ridiculous, the man has been working on fighting this since the dems we’re still screeching about peach mints. DPA is there if it’s needed but evidence points that private industry and even individuals have done so much to help alleviate short falls that government has not needed to use DPA to its full extent.

      You would critique him even if he had put a lot of force into the DPA.

      Also explain how not nationalizing private enterprise through DPA proves he’s spineless? It’s not exactly hard to do if needed, the frame work is already there.

      • 0 avatar

        Trump has systematically weakened the United States’ response to any major disaster like this since he entered office. There’s no other explanation based on the growth in the US compared to other countries.

        I suggest you read a timeline of his responses to the virus since your memory is only a couple days.

        He was calling it a hoax. For people to go back to work, travel, and they’ll get better if the catch the virus just by being in public.

        Supplies are already not enough. Due to the number of people catching it, which you conveniently ignored, suppliers must start producing now.

        He of course doesn’t want to save American lives because it might inconvenience a few companies and hurt the stock market.

        • 0 avatar

          Posting a far left site as evidence is not convincing, even the news agencies have retracted the lie that he called it a hoax.

          Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no way to go through life.

          • 0 avatar

            You do know that when Adminstrations change, they do a series of exercises, where the new Admin sits with the people from the outgoing Admin, and they do ‘war games’ so the new guys will learn how the system works. Think of it as Presidenting 101.

            The Trump folks were bored and didn’t pay attention. Shortly thereafter they disbanded the CDC Pandemic team.

            They took a course in this, they knew, and still lied. Also, a few Senators were briefed on this, and took the time to sell their stock, all whilst Dear Leader twittered the pandemic was no big deal.

            The ultimate act of the GOP is then to try to get a half billion dollars of slush fund with no disclosure until after the election as to which oligarchs DJT gave the money to. Trump Org hotels will be at the front of the line with hands out.

            We have a choice in November…either we get the pumps running and the ship righted again, or the American Experiment is formally over.

        • 0 avatar

          In January Trump established the Corona Virus Task Force as well as banned travel to China. Also in January a Public health Emergency was declared. The left wing media called this Xenophobic and every other word in their small dictionaries.

          One of the first countries to ban travel to China, which turned out to be crucial in slowing the spread, around this same time an Italian Mayor started a hug-a-thon for feel good SJW mess that, along with open travel to China, created the perfect storm for throwing Europe into this Pandemic.

          Since then he has deferred the payment of taxes on the American public.
          Eliminated travel to Europe
          Instructed SBA to provide loans to businesses affected by this
          Signed 8 billion into law to fund preliminary response efforts
          Worked with the private sector to have 2,000 Laboratories working to test samples
          Worked with insurance companies to eliminate co payments for testing
          Want me to go on? This is without congressional efforts up to this point.

          • 0 avatar

            The coronavirus task force that Trump created was just a way to make one of his relatives rich. He was searching for ideas from regular people on Facebook! Much better than listening to the pandemic experts that he fired and admitted to firing!

            Now people are dying following Trump’s homemade coronavirus cures made from cleaning supplies. Serves them right for believing this liar.

        • 0 avatar

          “ We have a choice in November…either we get the pumps running and the ship righted again, or the American Experiment is formally over.”

          You need more than a couple pumps to keep Biden alive long enough to reach the election. The mans got dementia and his health qualifies him for a nursing home, that’s it.

        • 0 avatar

          “ The ultimate act of the GOP is then to try to get a half billion dollars of slush fund with no disclosure until after the election as to which oligarchs DJT gave the money to. Trump Org hotels will be at the front of the line with hands out.”

          Do you mean with the bipartisan developed bill that the senate developed? No one seemed to have any issue with it until Pelosi decided we should take Clyburn’s comments to heart.

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry, the criticism of Trump here is valid – he should have invoked the DPA days ago, even if doing so would have been symbolic.

            I’m perfectly comfortable giving his administration credit where it’s due – and in this case, many of the actions and policies coming from the administration make perfect sense. Unfortunately, what Trump says and does usually doesn’t make sense, and just undermines the smart, good people around him.

            I’m just grateful he hasn’t sh*tcanned Fauci yet after the guy facepalmed on national TV and didn’t pledge eternal fealty in an interview. Usually that stuff is enough to get you sent packing from this administration. But I’m sure once the crisis passes, that check is in the mail.

          • 0 avatar

            Trump doesn’t want anyone to appear smarter than him on television so he fires everyone that might take the spotlight away from him

          • 0 avatar

            Trump’s timeline of lies and deceit.

            China released information about the virus in December, and Trump day on his hands for 2 months.


            January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

            February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

            February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

            February 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”

            February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”

            February 26: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

            February 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

            February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

            February 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”

            February 28: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that, right? Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa.” “They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.”

            March 2: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”

            March 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”

            March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

            March 5: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”

            March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

            March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”

            March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”

            March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

            March 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

            March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”

            March 9: “This blindsided the world.”

            March 9: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant.”

            March 10: “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

            March 13: National Emergency Declaration

            March 13: “I don’t take responsibility at all”


            March 16: “I give myself a 10 out of 10”

          • 0 avatar


            Where exactly are the lies you claim to see?

          • 0 avatar

            “ he should have invoked the DPA days ago, even if doing so would have been symbolic.”

            I disagree he would have been excoriated by both sides if he invoked that a week ago. As long as private enterprise can create necessary supplies, nationalizing private enterprise should not be pushed.

            If we peak within the next week and a half it would have, in retrospect, been a huge blunder looking back. If we don’t peak until mid April, I agree that we could be in trouble.

  • avatar

    “That’s ridiculous, the man has been working on fighting this since the dems we’re still screeching about peach mints.”

    That is an absolute lie. Trump was downplaying it while the medical establishment was screaming we had to get ahead of it. And while Democrat *and* Republican governors were stepping up to do the job he was ignoring. Trump blithely blew off the concerns of the subject matter experts inside government and in the private sector right up until he saw his stupidity was hurting his re-election chances. Stop spewing your ignorant bu11$hit.

    • 0 avatar

      How has he not been working on it, have you even turned on a TV? His administration was working on this in January while the rest of Washington was ignoring the warning signs.

      • 0 avatar

        Hummer lives in a different reality. There’s no helping this person even by presenting facts.

        • 0 avatar

          You have not presented facts, rather you have (out of poor faith) attacked the president using incorrect talking points you slurped up from your echo chambers.

          If we scale up the peak death in Italy to our countries population we should expect to see 4,000 deaths a day. I don’t think we’re going to see that as our country has done a much better job, from the start, in fighting this war thanks, in large part, to the policies and directives this administration has enacted.

          • 0 avatar

            If you can find any credible source to prove Trump has been any less than an unmitigated disaster to the United States in this time of crisis, please share.

            He has consistently lied, as shown on the credible link I shared with actual tweets made by him.

            He disbanded the pandemic response group and told people to go back to work if they were sick. Where’s your proof that he didn’t?

          • 0 avatar

            “He has consistently lied, as shown on the credible link I shared with actual tweets made by him.“

            You posted a link to politifact, I may as well post a link to Breitbart and we can go to both extremes.

            “ He disbanded the pandemic response group and told people to go back to work if they were sick. Where’s your proof that he didn’t?”

            No neither of these happened, I’ll provide you another left wing source,

            Your throwing a whole lot of soft balls, do you have any evidence what so ever that the administration has responded poorly? Or am I going to stay here debunking your long disproven conspiracy theories all night?

          • 0 avatar



            The story you linked was false, hence using an archived page.

            Trump has bumbled his way through this crisis.

            America is going to suffer greatly for electing a person who can’t read and comprehend more than a couple points on a PowerPoint slide, let alone organize a meaningful response to a crisis. End of story.

          • 0 avatar

            You posted a link to a Congo drum player. This one mans opinion must mean a lot to me. You seem like the type of guy CNN was attracting by having the world renown epidemiologist Sean Penn on to give us “hard facts” about the corona virus.

      • 0 avatar

        “Republicans are happy to rally around DeWine even as they wrestle with uncomfortable questions about how he has approached the pandemic with more urgency than President Donald Trump has. Many Democrats are lauding his approach too.

        “The good governors, and DeWine has been one of them in this, know they have to drive this because we have a president who has been AWOL on this — worse than AWOL, he’s caused damage to their efforts,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, a past DeWine rival, told me. “DeWine won’t say that. I would think he wouldn’t, but of course he knows that. We all know that.” –

        “President Trump calls the coronavirus pandemic a war. Well, wars are won by taking the initiative, which this president certainly hasn’t done.

        Instead, while Trump was denying even the existence of a threat, state governors were on the battlefield. Compare Trump’s performance in the last three weeks with that of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R-Md.), a businessman before he was first elected in 2014.”

        I edited the second link for brevity but the article details how the governors stepped up while Trump fiddled away precious time that we couldn’t afford to lose. Even **Tucker Carlson of Fox News** was ahead of Trump on this.

      • 0 avatar

        “I edited the second link for brevity but the article details how the governors stepped up while Trump fiddled away precious time that we couldn’t afford to lose. Even **Tucker Carlson of Fox News** was ahead of Trump on this.“

        I posted evidence of how you are wrong on every one of your “points” Despite this you persist with the exact same fallacies. Explain to me how much earlier was this administration supposed to begin working on this? Half of Congress was still rolling around screeching about peach mints while this administration begun their response in January.

        • 0 avatar

          No, you didn’t. We’re in worse shape now because of his dithering. Dithering that apologists like you defend.

          The facts aren’t “left-wing” or “right-wing”, they’re just facts. And they point out how Trump didn’t/couldn’t grasp what was at stake, how he willfully denied there was a serious emergency and now we’re paying the price for his misfeasance. This is happening on his watch. It was up to the scientists, governors and medical professionals to sound the alarm. He was late to the party and the nation is paying a very heavy price for it.

          I get it, your mind is made up and you’ll stay in your reality distortion field regardless of the truth.

          • 0 avatar

            “ how he willfully denied there was a serious emergency and now we’re paying the price for his misfeasance”

            Please provide evidence to support this. I have provided evidence to the contrary so if you would like to keep blathering this baseless claim you should at least provide evidence to support it.

            You can’t rationalize that everything you’ve been told about Trump through your echo chamber is a lie, and you are incapable of making impartial, reasoned conclusions due to your programmed beliefs.

          • 0 avatar

            @EGSE: according to the media released figures the CMR for the US as of last week is 1.5% – less than China’s. According to the figures released by the media last night (3/23) the CMR for the world is 4.3%. Since these figures are changing as more get tested and confirmed and more die they are “temporary truths”. As of this moment the US is doing way better than China.

          • 0 avatar

            @THX1136 – “according to the media released figures the CMR for the US as of last week is 1.5% – less than China’s.”

            And the numbers of those *infected* in the U.S. is rapidly increasing. If the health care system becomes overwhelmed here as it did in China, where do you think the fatality rate in the U. S. will go? It won’t be down…..

            Your statement supports why we need to flatten the curve.

          • 0 avatar

            @EGSE: Thanks for your response. You are correct. The amount of deaths will rise as will the amount of confirmed cases. I believe the ratio of confirmed to deaths for our country will remain close to where it is at this time and possibly go lower. (pure speculation based on WHO figures) WHO today shows a CMR for the “Americas” of 1.2%. Indeed there will be deaths, but I do not believe that the CMR will go up to the 3.4 – 3.7% reported in Wuhan. The western hemisphere is just roughly a third of Wuhan. Bottom line: that is why I said this is a temporary truth. At the end of this thing I believe what I am positing will be closer to actual than what most folks think – i.e. 1% and possibly less which, again, will be less than China. Also, I am NOT saying this pandemic is not serious, it is. I am saying it is not so serious as to destroy our economy which will affect us far beyond – and to a greater extent – than the pandemic itself. Again, thanks for your response.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Everyone wants to play politics here. I think at the end of the day if the Government is going to do the same people should just go back to work. Nobody should be expected to give up their livelyhood and way of life because they can’t quit with the political nonsense. If an older loved one is harmed by this, look back at pages like this as to the why (not because some poor [email protected]$+ard doesn’t want to lose their home or business) and thank your congressman, if they make it through. At this point, I am fine with either outcome on that front as they have proven to be a fairly useless lot.

      If you make people choose their livelyhood and way of life or that of older and more vulnerable people, they will in larger numbers choose the former. The government’s job was to avoid that choice. Telling people to stay home without a plan for them to avoid ruin in place is a failure at every level. It isn’t going to last long…people will just go back to work and let the chips fall where they may. Again, be sure to thank your congressman/woman at your frail relative’s funeral. This is on them. Trump? He could do better in some areas, worse in others but what is happening in Congress is the true stain on all this. People are hurting and they play their collective fiddles.

  • avatar

    So what are the “true American companies by content” Toyota/Honda/Nissan are doing? Are they also going to participate in”Arsenal of Democracy”? It is urgent – fusaichi_pegasus is in need of high quality unbreakable ventilators.

  • avatar

    The auto industry, more likely its suppliers, are capable of producing everything that’s in short supply. But it will be weeks to months before they are ready to start production and the necessary time scale is days. It would take more than that even if complete, detailed plans already existed and all the players were just waiting for the order to start.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed 100%.

      “If we can get the drawings and the technical guidance, we’re ready and willing to help”

      Sure, and where will you get the parts – from the same suppliers that the medical companies source from? Some – if not many – items are sole-sourced because nobody else could meet the exacting standards needed for the product.

      And leaning on those same suppliers for more product won’t help.

      This is political grandstanding. It will be a long, long time before anyone sees a Ford or Tesla ventilator.

      And I’ll say this: Everyone wants the FDA to fast-track approvals until someone gets hurt. Then the finger-pointing starts.

    • 0 avatar


      The idea that you can go from making thing A one day to making thing B the next day, week or even month is not realistic. Plus with everyone at home who is going to build these things? Leprechauns?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        People seem to be under the delusion that plants went from building cars one day to B-24 Liberators the next and that it took no time.

        • 0 avatar

          A lot of WWII history is lost to time. How many Americans recall that part of the US strategy was to burn Japanese citizens alive by dropping incendiary bombs all over wooden cities. Tokyo saw 100,000 burned to death in one night. Don’t hear about that in history class.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX


            What’s the relevance of that part of history to this discussion?

            It sounds awful by our modern sensitivities, but all-out war means you do *anything* to disable and discourage the enemy, and to bring the war to a winning conclusion for your side.

            If Japan could have brought fire-bombing power to the US west coast, you can bet they would have. Just ask WWII China.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Some of you elected a money-losing ‘businessman’ who is a repeat philanderer and, somehow, a game show host, as President. Hilarious.

    • 0 avatar

      Those of us in NY, pre internet, knew Trump well. He was the guy who’d show up on the boring Sat/Sun public affairs shows when the primary guest bailed. His bluster, etc and stories about his new project, would fill the 42 minute news whole, and producers knew he LOVED the lights, so he was a reliable backup guest. We knew he was a con man. Later, he went national, and the rest of the nation only saw scripted Don, so they thought he was really “the guy”, not a second tier RE developer who had a bad rep for screwing contractors.

      He is banned from running a charity in NY state because they stole from it….this alone would be enough to get rid of a normal President. Ivanka skimmed funds from the Inaguration. Jared was bailed out by Arab money when his building needed it. There is literally so much going on it boggles the mind.

      A majority of Americans did not vote for him, electoral college aside.

      He can’t even read a speech in time of crisis. …. appalling.

      Back to Cars…

      • 0 avatar

        but never fear, Hummer is hear to cup his… you know.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        • 0 avatar

          You guys are hilarious, if Trump had put a million dollar LOAN into a mutual fund you believe he would have 8 billion dollars? So I’m sure you took out a loan to put in a mutual fun yourself? I’m sure the individual or organization that loaned you the money was speechless at your superior intellect.

          I would like to remind you that your party is voting for Biden. A man that, mid speech, forgets why he’s there and walks off stage only for his wife to push him back up and re-situate him. If this is the best the democrat party has to offer then I can rest easy knowing that if Biden some how lives to November that he will get to see Trump pull a 50 state sweep.

          Like wise, if the average democrat thinks Biden should be anywhere other than an assisted living facility then clearly you have no business talking politics.

          • 0 avatar

            You seem to believe that people belong to a political party, not ideas and beliefs. Biden is not great, but he knows his limits and will actually consult experts for advice and make a well informed decision to benefit America.

            Trump is an obese drug addict that gets fed vegetables disguised as mashed potatoes and was rushed to the hospital for heart trouble, is illiterate, can’t understand more than a couple points on a presentation slide, was obsessed about Badgers in official White House meetings, and wastes taxpayer money golfing. Anyone is a better choice than Trump in the next election, even a true conservative.

            No one has beat Trump for the number of stupid moments and stupid things he’s said.

            Here’s 2018 alone for a few laughs.


          • 0 avatar

            “ make a well informed decision to benefit America”

            Biden is incapable of dressing himself and you think he has the mental capacity to run a country?

            “ Trump is an obese drug addict ”

            Here’s another claim I’m sure you can back up.

            You sure are quick to throw out ridiculous claims that no one other than yourself has ever heard of. Problem is what you wish were true is simply not the case.

  • avatar

    Corporations Successfully Lobbied Trump Not to Use Defense Production Act to Fight Coronavirus

    President Trump prioritizes private company profits over American lives in a crisis he himself helped perpetuate.

  • avatar

    Simple, just don’t put your emergency back up pumps below ground, behind a seawall that was designed for the “one in a hundred years Tsunami” event. I’m sure that the three-mile island designers could take comfort in that.

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