Automakers Tesla, GM and Ford will switch factory lines from cars to ventilators
Rather than leave vital production lines unproductive as the globe goes on lockdown, alcohol giant Pernod Ricard and motor companies Tesla, GM and Ford (among others) are joining the fight against the coronavirus
Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, targets the lungs and can cause pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome in more severe cases. With close to 320,000 cases around the world, national health systems in the United States, United Kingdom and Italy are being overwhelmed and medical doctors have been given new guidelines to make difficult decisions which coronavirus victims get to live or die as they run out of intensive care beds or ventilators. Potentially, these draconian but necessary measures could see a patient already on a ventilator removed to allow a someone with a greater chance of survival to take their place. As a result automakers Tesla, GM and Ford will switch factory lines from cars to ventilators and alcohol conglomerate Pernod Ricard has ordered its facilities around the world to produce hand sanitisers.
“We’re at war with a virus,” – US presidential candidate and Vice President Joe Biden
Italy had 322 confirmed cases at the beginning of March, today with 53,578 cases and 4,825 deaths, there are now simply too many patients for individuals to receive adequate care, forcing Italian doctors to make extraordinary life or death decisions for the benefit of the “greater good”.
“As the world is facing a major pandemic, companies must mobilise, not only to ensure the safety of their employees, but also to contribute to collective efforts in accordance with their capabilities. By sharing our resources and making our production facilities available wherever they are needed, we are supporting our fellow citizens and local authorities. I would like to thank our employees who have worked hard to make everything possible in record time, all over the world.” – Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard
Automakers Tesla, GM and Ford will switch factory lines from cars to ventilators as war on Coronavirus heats up
The Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) has published guidelines for “wartime triage” – one where doctors have to make utilitarian choices rather than moral ones in order to “guarantee that patients with the highest chance of therapeutic success will retain access to intensive care”.
‘Gentlemen, we must outbuild Hitler’ – William Knudsen, then president of General Motors on the strategy to defeat the last great enemy
The United Kingdom has over 5000 cases at the moment and at its peak, confirmed 1035 cases in a day across its territories. Last Wednesday 18th March, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow broke news that GM CEO Mary Barra had offered to recall workers to idled production lines to make the medical devices needed to treat critically ill coronavirus patients in a ‘WWII-style mobilization’ similar to what LVMH did, switching from producing perfumes to hand sanitisers.
“We have had preliminary discussions with the US and UK governments and are looking into the feasibility. it’s vital that we all pull together to help the country weather this crisis and come out the other side stronger than ever.” – Rachel McCleery, Ford spokeswoman
Elon Musk then directed Tesla to join General Motors Co. in offering to manufacture hospital ventilators amid the coronavirus outbreak, with Ford also volunteering its production capabilities with its Chief Communications Officer, Mark Truby, saying: “As America’s largest producer of vehicles and top employer of autoworkers, Ford stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment.” While the Trump administration has not yet formally asked GM, the call to patriotic duty is reminiscent of when Detroit automakers pledged factory capacity to Allied powers during World War II.
Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems. Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly. Which hospitals have these shortages you speak of right now?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
When U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for Americans to arm and support the Allied Powers which included Britain and France, the auto industry switched to producing tanks and bombers with Ford building the US Air Force’s most powerful bomber, the Liberator, at a rate of one per hour. The company turned out a total of 8,685 B-24s. Because of Ford, the B-24 is still the most mass-produced American military aircraft of all time.
Addressing #COVID19 is a group effort. We are grateful for the discussion with @ElonMusk and @Tesla as we work across industries to solve problems and get patients and hospitals the tools they need to continue saving lives. We're all in this together. https://t.co/MdZ3u8k2nR
— Medtronic (@Medtronic) March 21, 2020
Modern Industrial Output and bold conglomerates like Pernod Ricard gives us some hope
At the time of Pearl Harbour, General Motors (GM) dwarfed every other corporation in the world by far. By the war’s end, GM was the largest military contractor in the world, responsible for more than $12 billion in war production. GM’s Cadillac factory, where some of the most luxurious cars were being built produced 38,000 tanks.The German Panzer Tanks IV were superior but it didn’t matter – the Nazis were overwhelmed by the might of GM’s 119,562,000 artillery shells; 206,000 aircraft engines; 13,000 Navy fighter planes and torpedo bombers; 854,000 trucks; 190,000 canons; 1.9 million machine guns and submachine guns; 3.1 million carbines; and 3.8 million electric motors. Today, an average car factory working 24 hours can churn out over 600 cars.
“We are very pleased with this partnership with Ricard SAS. Since January we have been steadily increasing our production capacity. It has already increased five-fold in one month, with the demand of pharmacists and consumers being a top priority for us.” – Sébastien Lucot, Managing Director of Cooper Laboratory
The ingenuity and will of a few willing entrepreneurs and business owners can also turn the tide. According to Designboom, facing a shortage of medical equipment in northern Italy, a team of engineers and fabricators comprising Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Ramaioli of Isinnova and Massimo Temporelli of FabLab, urgently 3D-printed 100 respirator valves for hospital patients suffering from COVID-19 after a hospital in Brescia ran out of the devices, and the original manufacturer was unable to supply them.
Pernod Ricard, the Paris-headquartered alcoholic beverage company best known for Martell, Chivas Regal and Absolut Vodka is providing 70,000 litres of pure alcohol to Cooper Laboratory, a leading French company that produces health products. This will allow Cooper to significantly increase the production of hydroalcoholic gel, with output equivalent to around 1.8 million individual 50ml vials.
While announcing the directive, Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard rallied his fellow Chief Executives to marshal their corporate and industrial resources, “As the world is facing a major pandemic, companies must mobilise, not only to ensure the safety of their employees, but also to contribute to collective efforts in accordance with their capabilities. By sharing our resources and making our production facilities available wherever they are needed, we are supporting our fellow citizens and local authorities. I would like to thank our employees who have worked hard to make everything possible in record time, all over the world.”
Pernod Ricard is truly leveraging its global reach to do it as well:
- Sweden: Absolut vodka’s distillery is offering spirits on a large scale for the production of hand sanitisers.
- US bourbon manufacturing plant and distilleries are producing hand sanitisers.
- Its Spain unit and Irish Distillers arm will also provide their technical support, workers and production facilities to the authorities.