Trump lashes out at GM and Ford over ventilators

President Donald Trump criticized General Motors and Ford on Twitter for not making fans quickly enough, calling on GM to boost supplies by reopening a factory it sold last year.

GM did not respond directly to the tweets, but said it would join the ventilator manufacturer Ventec to produce medical equipment at its plant in Kokomo, Indiana. GM and Ventec will deliver the first fans next month with capacity up to 10,000 per month. GM will donate resources at cost.

GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have all rolled out plans to help make medical or protective equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The GM-Ventec project was due to debut on Wednesday, but was delayed while government officials assessed whether the $ 1 billion price was prohibitive, the New York Times reported.

Trump said on Twitter that GM is providing fewer fans than promised while asking for “the best dollar.” He tweeted, “Invoke P.!”, Explaining 13 minutes later that he meant that the Defense Production Act should be invoked.

Trump has given health secretary Alex Azar the power to use the law to force companies to make health care equipment. In doing so, the White House said the president had invoked the law.

But his administration has not officially used the powers of the law to increase the supply of items such as masks or respirators to fight the coronavirus. Until Friday, Trump had insisted that companies are doing everything they can to help produce such equipment – although his tweets from Friday seem to indicate that the President has now changed his mind.

The president said GM and Ford should “GET GO ON VENTILATORS, FAST !!!!!!”. He also said that GM should reopen the Lordstown, Ohio plant, which it sold to a start-up planning to build electric trucks.

GM announced a week ago that it will use its purchasing and logistics expertise to help Ventec, a small manufacturer headquartered in the suburbs of Seattle, to increase production. Ford is working with the Minnesota manufacturer 3M and GE Healthcare on efforts to build a modified respirator and modified ventilator, the latter requiring accelerated federal government approval for production. Ford and the United Auto Workers union are also planning to make about 100,000 face shields a month for hospital workers.

Although GM has closed all of its factories in North America, 1,000 UAW members will return to work to manufacture the fans. The company also plans to make surgical masks at a factory in Warren, Michigan, to reach 50,000 a day in two weeks.

“We are proud to partner with other American companies and our skilled employees to meet the needs of this global pandemic,” said Mary Barra, CEO.

GM shares fell 4% while Ford shares fell 0.6% in the afternoon.

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