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Tesla engineers show prototype fan on YouTube

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Engineers at Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) showed a prototype ventilator on Sunday evening in a video posted on the company’s YouTube channel as hospitals across the country swamped with coronavirus patients face a shortage of devices.

FILE PHOTO: The view of the Tesla Inc vehicle factory in the United States that was opened on March 18, despite an order from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to comply with a three-week lockout in the San Francisco Bay, to curb the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID), in Fremont, California, United States, March 18, 2020. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton / File Photo

The fan design relies heavily on Tesla spare parts, said one of the engineers, allowing the company to redeploy existing stock and quickly produce the devices.

The video is released two weeks after CEO Elon Musk said Tesla plans to reopen its New York plant to produce fans.

The production schedule was not specified in the video.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” said one of the engineers, “but we are doing our best.”

Governments around the world have appealed to automakers and aerospace companies to help them procure or manufacture ventilators and other medical equipment amid the growing number of coronavirus infections.

More than a million people worldwide were infected with the coronavirus, while more than 65,000 were killed. The United States has the highest number of cases above 300,000.

On March 30, Ford Motor Co (F.N) indicated that it would produce 50,000 fans in the next 100 days at a Michigan factory in cooperation with General Electric (GE.N) health care unit, and could then build 30,000 per month if needed.

Musk said on March 31 that Tesla plans to provide free FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals in the regions the electric automaker delivers to.

The Financial Times reported that the devices donated by Musk to some New York hospitals were not the type of ventilators that were required to be used in intensive care units. Rather, they were two-stage positive pressure machines, commonly used to treat sleep apnea, but recently approved by the FDA as an alternative in case of ventilator failure.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Report by Kate Duguid; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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