Tesla is one of many car manufacturers to have stepped forward to manufacture badly needed ventilators in response to the current coronavirus pandemic. The California-based company has released a video showing how it plans to use parts from its Model 3 to make the units.
The ventilator designed by Tesla uses a touchscreen and a computer from the compact sedan's multimedia system. The latter controls other reconverted units in the car, all to manage the flow of air through the machine by means of multiple valves connected to a manifold designed by Tesla.
The use of existing automotive parts could help Tesla get its ventilator into production faster. The company has the parts on hand and doesn't have to turn to medical-device suppliers for components. Engineers are also familiar with these parts, so the learning curve is less steep.
Other manufacturers have committed to building ventilators and other medical supplies to address the equipment shortage. Ford has partnered with GE Healthcare to build ventilators at a Michigan plant and is working with 3M to produce units using repurposed car components, for example seat fans intended for the F-150. General Motors is working with Ventec Life Systems to build ventilators at its Indiana plant.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said his plant in Buffalo, New York, would reopen to produce ventilators. The plant normally builds solar panels, while car production takes place in Fremont, California. Both facilities are currently closed due to containment regulations. It’s not known at this time whether Tesla will also build ventilators at Fremont.
Elon Musk initially described the coronavirus panic as "stupid," but soon changed his mind and offered help. In addition to making plans to manufacture his own ventilators, Musk committed to purchasing them from other suppliers and routing them to hospitals in need.