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Tesla and General Motors Could Retool Plants to Build Medical Equipment

Tesla joins GM and Ford in offering to make hospital ventilators in auto factories that have been shut by the coronavirus outbreak.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report joined General Motors  (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report and Ford  (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report in offering to make hospital ventilators in auto factories that have been shut by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his electric vehicle company would make ventilators if there is a shortage.

Tesla was forced to close its sole U.S assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., earlier this week with the sheriff's office in Alameda County saying the company wasn't "an essential business" as defined in a shelter-in-place order issued by several California counties.

Musk provided no additional details on Tesla's plans to make medical devices.

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra also is considering retooling the automaker's factories to make ventilators. She has been in touch with Trump administration officials after GM said it would suspend production at its plants in North America through March 30 so the factories can be cleaned and sanitized.

“She also indicated 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,” a GM spokesperson told Politico.

GM could use some of its excess factory space to build ventilators and has people looking into how that would be done, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler  (FCAU) - Get Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. Report said Wednesday they would close all U.S. factories through March 30. The moves came a day after the United Auto Workers union sent a letter to the Big Three Detroit automakers urging them to consider a shutdown to protect workers from contracting the virus.

Ford also is exploring the possibility of making medical equipment at its plants, according to reports.