Coronavirus: Why GM, Ford offering to make ventilators is throwback to WW II era

Big car makers in the US had changed their entire assembly line in the 1940s to help in World War II efforts.With coronavirus threat on humanity, companies are now offering to make use of their temporarily shut plants to manufacture medical equipment.
By : Shubhodeep Chakravarty
| Updated on: 19 Mar 2020, 10:06 AM
File photo used for representational purpose. (AFP)
File photo used for representational purpose. (AFP)
File photo used for representational purpose. (AFP)
File photo used for representational purpose.

The coronavirus pandemic has been likened by many as an emergency almost akin to World War II that cast a dark shadow across the globe and endangered humanity as a whole. Little wonder then that much like during the 1940s when several organisations offered to go beyond their scope of regular work to help in any way possible, many companies are now offering assistance in areas which are not necessarily their area of expertise.

Among them are GM and Ford - renowned car makers who could branch out to manufacture ventilators required for patients suffering from coronavirus - officially called Covid-19 - in the US.

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world has been steadily climbing and with no vaccine available to treat patients as yet, the focus is largely on ramping up medical facilities that are available. Ventilators, therefore, become a critical part of these efforts because they help patients suffering from severe cases of coronavirus to breathe easier.

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Fox News reported that White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has confirmed he is in talks with officials from GM and Ford who have offered to help out.

Bloomberg reported that GM CEO Mary Barra has already taken the lead and offered to manufacture ventilators at its car factories which have been temporarily shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And this is not the first time that American car companies are stepping up to assist the US government. After a call from the then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, several automotive companies had changed their car assembly lines to manufacture military vehicles to help in the war efforts in the early 1940s.

(Also read: Mercedes uses Winston Churchill's WW II quote to inspire dealers)

The more recent move is also not the first presently with the British government under PM Boris Johnson asking Ford, Honda and Rolls Royce to consider making medical equipment to aid patients of coronavirus. Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Rolls-Royce, an iconic British automotive brand which also manufactures commercial plane engines, has offered help. Japanese car maker Honda has a plant in Swindon and has been asked by the UK government to explore the possibility of manufacturing ventilators here. Ford in UK has said it is 'assessing the situation.'

First Published Date: 19 Mar 2020, 09:39 AM IST
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