General Motors is partnering with medical device company Ventec Life Systems to increase production of ventilators that will treat patients with the novel coronavirus, the companies said late Friday.
Some health care experts warn U.S. hospitals face severe shortages of life-saving ventilators if COVID-19 cases spike.
"We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis."
The Ventec-GM partnership is in cooperation with StopTheSpread.org, the nation's coordinated private sector response to the virus.
The collaboration comes days after President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, established in 1950 in response to production needs during the Korean War. The act was put into effect to obtain health and medical resources needed to respond to the virus, including medical and protective equipment.
Ventec, based in Seattle, will rely on GM's logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build ventilators.
"By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster. This partnership will help save lives," Chris Kiple, Ventec Life Systems CEO, said in the statement.
GM has not yet said wherever ventilators will be assembled at the company's plants and whether UAW members will build them.
"This is the first step. We are exploring all options," GM spokesman Dan Flores said.
Volkswagen Group said on Friday it was also joining other manufacturers around the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators to combat the coronavirus.
Governments are also enlisting Ford, Ferrari and Nissan to help ramp up production of ventilators and other equipment they are short of to treat the fast-spreading disease.
In a statement, Volkswagen said it had assembled a task force, was testing materials and checking supply chains to see how it can use 3D printing to help manufacture hospital ventilators and other life-saving equipment.
"Medical equipment is a new field for us. But as soon as we understand the requirements, and receive a blueprint, we can get started," Volkswagen said, adding that prototype components had been printed and its Skoda arm was included in the project.
A VW spokesman said the company, which has more than 125 industrial 3D printers, was in close contact with governments and other authorities to assess needs.
Reuters contributed to this report.