GM to supply 30,000 ventilators to national stockpile for nearly $490M

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is set to begin producing ventilators at its Kokomo Operations in Indiana as early as next week, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first contract for ventilator production under the Defense Production Act.

GM will supply 30,000 ventilators for $489.4 million for the Strategic National Stockpile by the end of August with 6,132 being delivered by June 1.

GM will hand off control to Ventec to continue manufacturing ventilators in Kokomo, Indiana, along with continued expanded production at Ventec’s headquarters in Bothell, Washington.

The White House previously had been negotiating with Washington-based ventilator manufacturer Ventec Life Systems while GM was a manufacturing contractor to Ventec. President Donald Trump on March 27 signed a presidential memorandum under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act ordering GM to accept government contracts to make ventilators.

“Invoking the Defense Production Act to secure ventilator production from GM and other companies is a part of President Trump’s all-of-America approach to combating the coronavirus," Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement. "By rating contracts under the DPA, HHS is helping manufacturers like GM get the supplies they need to produce ventilators as quickly as possible, while also ensuring that these ventilators are routed through the Strategic National Stockpile to where they’re needed most."

GM continues to work with Ventec "with speed and urgency to arm front-line medical professionals with the critical care ventilators they need to treat seriously ill patients," the Detroit automaker said in a statement.

"GM is proud to deploy its purchasing and manufacturing capability alongside the respiratory care expertise of Ventec. We remain dedicated to working with the Administration to ensure American innovation and manufacturing meet the needs of the country during this global pandemic."

The Trump administration has said it wants to acquire 100,000 ventilators by early July as areas with high COVID-19 cases face shortages of the medical devices that help patients in severe cases breathe.

GM last month announced its partnership with Ventec to boost its ventilator production. The automaker on March 27 said it also would make 10,000 of Ventec's devices per month starting in mid-April at its Kokomo operations electronic components plant in Indiana. The announcement came after Trump slammed GM and CEO Mary Barra on Twitter, saying they were reneging on its plans to make the devices in a timely fashion.

Then hours after the Kokomo announcement, Trump issued the presidential memorandum to order GM to accept government contracts, though the company said the action would not change its plans to move forward with ventilator production. Trump on March 29 changed his tune, saying GM was doing a "fantastic job."

Ford Motor Co. also is making ventilators for the federal government. The 50,000 approximately $7,000 devices designed by Florida-based Airon Corp. that Ford is making by July 4 at its Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti for GE Healthcare is contributing to the White House's 100,000-devices request, the Dearborn automaker has said.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

Staff Writer Kalea Hall contributed.