Strangely car companies are pretty well set up to mass-produce medical ventilators, with the heating and ventilation system in high-end vehicles already using reliable motors, tubing and control systems.
There have therefore been calls for companies such as Ford and Tesla to step in and help fill the gap between the expected demand due to the deadly COVID-19 epidemic and the supply of ventilators in USA. It is estimated that there are only 100,000 ventilators in USA and that there will be more than 3 million people very seriously ill due to the virus.
Elon Musk has been accused of downplaying the epidemic, famously saying it is no worse than the yearly Influenza pandemic which already kills tens of thousands.
The coronavirus panic is dumb
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2020
He has now however volunteered Tesla and SpaceX’s production capacity to producing ventilators and masks for healthcare workers, saying he is ready to deliver 250,000 N95 masks as early is tomorrow and 1000 ventilators to hospitals by next week.
Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems. Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly. Which hospitals have these shortages you speak of right now?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
Musk is however still largely of the opinion that the threat is being exaggerated, citing the normalizing situation in China, though this was only achieved via a draconian lockdown which has still not been fully mandated in most of the west.
Yes, we’re working on ventilators, even though I think they probably won’t be needed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 20, 2020
It remains to be seen it time will change Musk’s mind, but his efforts to help may prevent the very worse outcomes, which is an even better result.