By Claudia Assis, MarketWatch
Musk also enters the fray, saying ventilators are 'not difficult to make, but cannot be produced instantly'
"I can confirm that GM is exploring the possibility of supporting ventilator production," a GM (GM) spokesperson told MarketWatch.
Ford Motor Co. (F) said that while it didn't have production plans for ventilators, it was "exploring the feasibility of providing that type of assistance."
Both companies said they had no more details or specifics to share at this stage.
Late Wednesday, Tesla Inc. (TSLA) Chief Executive Office Elon Musk tweeted the Silicon Valley auto maker "will make ventilators if there is a shortage." ( )
In a subsequent tweet Musk said that the devices are "not difficult to make, but cannot be produced instantly." Tesla makes cars with sophisticated HVAC systems and SpaceX makes spacecraft with life-support systems, he said.
Related: Coronavirus update: 194,217 cases, 7,864 deaths, COVID-19 clinical trials begin in the U.S ().
There is concern that the U.S. would not have enough ventilators in an acute crisis brought by the novel coronavirus, which could lead to difficult choices for medical professionals.
Ventilators are mostly used for patients undergoing surgery under anesthesia and for those with impaired lung function () caused by a condition or illness, including pneumonia, which can be a complication for people who contracted the COVID-19 illness.
Reports that auto makers could stand in for ventilator makers started swirling late Wednesday after White House economist Larry Kudlow told Fox News he had spoken with executives, including GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, about the possibility.
See also: Tesla to limit workforce at Fremont factory from 10,000 to 2,500 due to outbreak: report ()
Detroit auto makers halted production in North America through the end of the month to work out long-term plans for the protection of their workers during the pandemic.
Tesla factory in California, located in a county under a "shelter in place order," is reportedly operating with fewer workers. Tesla has not publicly commented on its operations since, and requests for comment have not been answered.
Jaimy Lee in New York contributed to this story
-Claudia Assis; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 19, 2020 14:54 ET (18:54 GMT)
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