DETROIT—General Motors is exploring the possibility of putting its manufacturing muscle toward medical equipment to help treat the novel coronavirus.
CEO Mary Barra spoke with officials from the Trump administration March 18 about the company's plans to halt North American production until March 30.
"GM is working to help find solutions for the nation during this difficult time and has offered to help, and we are already studying how we can potentially support production of medical equipment like ventilators," spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan told Automotive News.
Ginivan said the possibility of medical equipment production still only is being analyzed at this point and there are no details yet on how the process would work.
Having auto makers help the country combat the coronavirus by making medical supplies would be a callback to the "Arsenal of Democracy" during World War II, when U.S. manufacturers used their plants to build weapons, tanks, trucks and planes for the allied forces.
That sort of innovation is what the country needs to overcome the coronavirus crisis, officials with the Center for Automotive Research wrote in an op-ed that appeared in The Hill.
"That was a time when we did take America's manufacturing might and bring it to bear on an an issue affecting the whole country," Kristin Dziczek, CAR's vice president of industry, labor and economics, told Automotive News. "And that's what we have to do now."