Automakers are raiding their parts bins to help save lives during the coronavirus outbreak. It's an effort that already was well underway but gained urgency late last week when President Donald Trump used the Defense Production Act to order General Motors to move faster as the nation confronts a shortage of critical medical equipment.
Dampers developed for a Chevrolet Tahoe could be used as an airflow control system to allow multiple COVID-19 patients to share a single ventilator. Purifying and filtration systems for a Ford Escape could remove impurities from the air patients breathe. Even devices designed to test blood alcohol levels could be used as mouthpieces for those struggling to breathe on their own.
Automakers have sprung into action while the coronavirus outbreak has halted their ability to build vehicles, leveraging their manufacturing scale, supply chain channels and production efficiency to help make respirators and ventilators instead.
The rapid response to the pandemic is an example of leadership across industries possibly not seen since World War II when automakers helped the Defense Department build tanks, fighter planes and machine guns.