Remember the early days of Covid-19 when the coronavirus swept the globe and became everyone’s problem? Seems like a long time ago, but it was just a few months back. In March, America was stormed by the virus and carmakers were roped in to make ventilators for the government as Covid-19 cases piled up.

Now, Detroit big boys General Motors and Ford have said that they are close to completing production of ventilators ordered by the US government, and are ramping down or exiting the operations, Reuters reports.

According to the report, many of the ventilators assembled by the carmakers and other manufacturers have gone into the US government’s stockpile as doctors moved away from using invasive ventilators with Covid-19 patients. According to the US Health and Human Services department (HHS), the government currently has 108,000 ventilators in its medical equipment stockpile and 12,000 deployed at US hospitals.

GM, which has a US$489 million (RM2.04 billion) contract with the federal government to fulfil, says that the carmaker and medical equipment maker Ventec Life Systems are in the “home stretch” towards delivering 30,000 ventilators by the end of August. The duo have already delivered more than 20,000 machines.

On Ford’s end, the Blue Oval has assembled about 47,000 of the 50,000 ventilators it agreed to supply to partner General Electric. GE has a US$336 million (RM1.4 billion) contract with the US government. HHS said it has received more than 69,000 of the machines needed for serious Covid-19 cases assembled by GM, Ford and their partners.

With that, it will soon be business as usual at the carmakers, which compared their ventilator-making stint to WW2, when they switched from making cars to tanks and planes. The ventilator section is being wound down, but the Detroit carmakers will continue to make respiratory masks.

GM’s plan is to transfer the ventilator-making operations at the Kokomo, Indiana plant to its partner Ventec on September 1. Union-represented GM workers employed at the factory will return to the carmaker, while temporary staff will remain with Ventec.

Ford transferred full-time workers who were making ventilators back to their home plants in May. The majority of the temporary workers still on the ventilator lines will have opportunities to land jobs building the new Ford Bronco in Michigan, the company said.

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