The current climate surrounding the auto industry today is not normal by any means. Veteran carmakers like Ford and GM are poised to reopen their factories in the United States amidst the coronavirus pandemic, and electric car maker Tesla is clashing with county health officers who seem intent on keeping its lone vehicle production plant in the US shuttered. But beyond these, there are still some events that are bound to raise more eyebrows than usual.
Just recently, a GM-related plant in Mexico has been ordered to shut down by government authorities. The facility, which is located in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico, has noted in an early April document that it will be in operation since it was contracted to produce parts for ventilators. GM is among the US automakers that have been asked to provide additional breathing machines to help the country deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
As it turned out, the GM-related facility was not producing ventilator parts at all. According to three workers in the facility in a statement to Bloomberg News, the Mexico plant had actually been producing car parts instead. General Motors has adopted a hands-off stance on the issue, stating that it does not have a purchase agreement to acquire ventilator parts from the Mexican facility.
The shutdown of the factory transpired on May 4, with the federal Labor Ministry conducting an hours-long sweep and asking the plant’s workers to go home. One of Bloomberg News’ sources, who worked in the facility, stated that while the shutdown was enforced due to the plant’s production of car parts, there was a time when respirator parts were being manufactured at one point.
During the onset of the pandemic, US automakers have volunteered to use their resources to help the country’s health system deal with the coronavirus. Ford and GM were urged by the US government to produce ventilators as quickly as possible. Tesla, for its part, has opted to design an invasive ventilator using Model 3 parts, while CEO Elon Musk donated free non-invasive units to hospitals in the US and abroad.