Tesla’s solar panel factory in Buffalo mostly closed down in recent days as New York officials took steps to ease an ongoing, dangerous increase in coronavirus cases.
But the hiatus appears likely to be short-lived. This week, medical device giant Medtronic indicated Tesla was one of its partners in its efforts to ramp up production of ventilators — which will likely be needed in the tens of thousands to combat the pandemic in the state.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk later added on Twitter that the New York Gigafactory would “reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible.”
A New York lawmaker told the Buffalo News that Tesla hopes to make some of the components that Medtronic is currently experiencing difficulties sourcing for its complete ventilators — but that it needs to figure out both how to make the parts and how to convert its equipment to do so.
Tesla would become just the latest automaker to dedicate engineering or production to medical equipment or protective equipment for healthcare workers.
The company has also temporarily closed down its California auto assembly plant, but its Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada reportedly remains open.