President Donald Trump, who excoriated General Motors Co. on Friday and invoked emergency powers to compel the production of badly needed ventilators to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, has abruptly shifted gears to praise the automaker.
Trump, who has been on the defensive for not moving faster to compel the production of medical equipment, invoked the Defense Production Act for the first time on Friday, saying GM was wasting time in negotiations. GM had announced earlier on Friday, however, that it would begin quickly building ventilators.
On Sunday, GM vowed to move forward and released photos of its efforts to build ventilators at its Kokomo, Indiana plant.
GM’s manufacturing chief, Gerald Johnson, told Reuters the company aims to produce 10,000 ventilators a month by summer.
“No later than mid-April we expect to be up and running ventilators,” Johnson said, noting the ventilators will need U.S. regulatory approval, significant testing and that the company must train over 1,000 workers to assemble them.
GM has been working with ventilator firm Ventec Life Systems, numerous auto suppliers and other ventilator firms as officials warn the United States may need tens of thousands of additional ventilators.
In any earlier tweet on Friday before GM’s announcement, Trump accused the automaker of wanting top dollar for its ventilators.
A GM spokesman said the company is doing the project “at cost” and will not make a profit.
Johnson said the automaker is spending tens of millions on retooling costs and that if supplier retooling costs are factored in, total retooling costs were in the hundreds of millions of dollars.