April 4, 2020

Auto Industry Responds To COVID-19

Auto Industry Responds To COVID-19

As with most industries, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc with the auto industry.  Virtually all plants are on pause, putting many thousands of workers on furlough.  But, as in World War II, automakers represent vast manufacturing, engineering, and philanthropic capabilities that can be tapped for everything from face masks to ventilators and food programs.  Here are examples of automakers doing their part in the current crisis.

General Motors

  • GM and Ventec Life Systems of Bothell, Washington are partnering to begin delivering ventilators in April.  The former Delco Electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana is sourcing 700 parts to build up to 200,000 units.  The operation will employ 1,000 workers, including those from Marion and Kokomo facilities.
  • The former Warren Transmission Plant in Warren, Michigan will produce 50,000 Level 1 facemasks per day within 2 weeks with ability to ramp up to 100,000 per day.

Ford Motor Company

  • The Rawsonville plant near Detroit will produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days in partnership with GE Healthcare.  It will have the ability to produce 30,000 units per month thereafter.


  • The Smyrna, Tennessee plant will produce face masks for front line responders.


  • Working to produce 3D printed face shields with mass production beginning early April.  First batch will go to hospitals in Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.
  • Finalizing agreements to work with two companies in building ventilators and respirators
  • Seeking partners to produce COVID-19 masks.
  • Offering lean manufacturing/engineering expertise to increase capacity for key supplies.  Supporting hospitals and communities to organize efficient drive-through testing sites.
  • Donating money to United Way, food banks, and other nonprofits.


  • Donating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N-95 masks, from company’s inventory.
  • Utilizing 3-D printers to manufacture visors for face shields.
  • Investigating manufacturing needs related to medical equipment, including partnering with other companies.


  • Hyundai Hope On Wheels expanding COVID-19 drive-through testing to 11 children’s hospitals with $2.2 million in grants.  The focus will be children with cancer and compromised immune systems.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

  • 1 million facemasks for first responders.
  • 10 million meals for kids.
  • Promised more actions to come, including contributing to ventilator production.  
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