President Donald Trump delivers remarks at American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan with General Motors CEO Mary Barra and other auto industry executives on March 15, 2017.
Nicolas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump criticized General Motors and its CEO Mary Barra for their response to producing needed ventilators amid the coronavirus pandemic and wanting “top dollar” for such work.
Trump, in a tweet, said, “As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P’.”
In the initial tweet, the meaning of “Invoke P” wasn’t immediately clear. But Trump followed up with a second one, saying he was referring to invoking the Defense Production Act that would force companies to produce such equipment. It’s unclear if that means he has invoked the act, or if he plans to do so or is just threatening it.
GM is “in the blocks, ready to start” production of ventilators, however is awaiting regulatory approval, sources told CNBC’s Scott Wapner. A deal, according to the sources, could be announced as soon as today.
A spokesperson for the White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. GM was not immediately available for comment.
Trump’s comments follow the New York Times reporting on Friday that GM and Ventec Life Systems, which it is partnering with to build such supplies, wanted “more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to GM to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.”
Trump, in a separate tweet, said GM “MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!” He also urged Ford Motor to “get going on ventilators, fast.”
GM ended operations at the Ohio plant and sold it to an EV truck startup called Lordstown Motors.
Ford, in an emailed statement, said the company “is pulling out all the stops to quickly and safely provide vitally needed equipment for patients, first responders and healthcare workers.” The company said it has delivered tens of thousands of Ford-produced face shields to hospitals and police agencies.
Ford last week announced plans to partner with GE Healthcare and 3M to “quickly expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies,” including masks, air-purifying respirators and ventilators.
“Ford is in active conversations with the Administration, seeking guidance about approvals, scope and distribution relating to a series of products, including ventilators,” the company said. “We’ll provide more detail on timing and production figures as soon as possible.”
Trump, before criticizing the New York Times report, said the government has “just purchased many Ventilators from some wonderful companies. Names and numbers will be announced later today!”
This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.