General Motors (NYSE:GM) has delivered its first ventilators to Chicago-area hospitals -- and it has many more on the way.
The automaker said that its joint venture with Ventec Life Systems, operating in a GM plant in Kokomo, Indiana, turned two shipments of ventilators over to United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) for delivery to two Chicago-area hospitals on Friday. UPS will deliver a third shipment to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the Gary/Chicago International Airport on Saturday, for distribution by FEMA.
The deliveries began exactly one month after GM and Ventec began discussions about a potential joint venture to speed up production and delivery of Ventec's VOCSN ventilators, GM said. The two companies announced on March 20 that they would work together to repurpose a section of the GM factory in Kokomo to manufacture the ventilators.
Ventilators, used by hospitals to help critically ill patients breathe, have been in short supply since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. General Motors is one of several automakers that have put idled factories and manufacturing expertise to use to make ventilators and other supplies for first responders and healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients.
While President Donald Trump was initially impatient with GM's effort, the White House had nothing but praise for all involved in the effort on Friday. Dr. Peter Navarro, assistant to the president, said that GM, Ventec, and the United Auto Workers labor union set a new standard for rapid industrial mobilization.
The Trump administration awarded the Ventec-GM joint venture a $489.4 million contract to produce 30,000 ventilators on April 8. GM and Ventec expect to deliver about 6,000 ventilators by June 1, and all 30,000 by the end of August.