Motor City Answers National Supply Shortages in Time-Honored TraditionApril 3, 2020
It was 1940 when Edsel Ford made a commitment to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Ford Motor Company could build a B-42 Liberator Bomber every hour. By 1945, 8,685 bombers were produced at Ford’s newly established Willow Run facility in Ypsilanti. Down the road, Chrysler was partnering with the army to build M3 “General Lee” tanks, producing 22,234 by the end of 1943. The “arsenal of democracy” was full steam ahead and proved to be a crucial contributor to the allied victory.
Detroiters have an incredible sense of pride in the automotive industry. Nearly all have a parent, a sibling, a cousin, or a friend who works for an automotive manufacturer or supplier. More broadly, it defines the grit and the perseverance of what it means to be Detroiter and serves as an interconnected part of the city’s history and society. Detroit breathes the automobile.
It is in times of great national need, however, that we truly rise to the occasion. As this global health crisis unfolds, Detroit is leveraging its signature industry’s supply chain, production, and logistics expertise to rapidly transition from automobiles and vigilantly attack the challenge of providing vital medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
General Motors Co. recently partnered with Ventec Life Systems, and Ford with GE Healthcare, to produce thousands of ventilators for America’s hospitals. Remember, this commitment by the industry requires the hard and dedicated work of thousands of employees. This includes the hundreds of supplier companies necessary to keep manufacturing active. Like our medical professionals and first responders, these men and women are risking the health of themselves and their families daily to provide supplies for others in need.
COVID-19 presents challenges that we are only beginning to understand as we wage a new kind of war against a worldwide pandemic. Following the conclusion of World War II, Walter Reuther of the UAW observed that “America’s [battles] were won on the assembly lines of Detroit.” American innovation has the power to help carry the world through this crisis as this incredible transformation to the “arsenal of health” takes place right here in the Motor City.