Automakers Pivot to Produce Ventilators, Respirators, and Face Masks

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The sudden arrival of the new coronavirus has caused shortages of ventilators, face masks, and respirators. And those shortages have now sparked automakers, quite unexpectedly, to enter the business of manufacturing critical medical equipment.

On the surface, it makes little sense: What do the makers of Mustangs and Chevrolet Volts know about ventilators? Automakers have been first to admit—not much at all.

“We’re not the experts here, but we can help the experts,” Mike Levine, Ford spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, automakers are leveraging their expertise in fast manufacturing, logistics, and supply-chain operations. Ford CEO Jim Hackett has said it currently takes GE about 27 hours to build a ventilator, but estimates Ford can cut production time in half, to around 13 hours.

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