If it needs to step up to build ventilators.
The Tesla Model Y has begun deliveries this week, on time, marking a momentous achievement for the company. After missing deadlines with the Model 3, Tesla is happy to begin delivering its new SUV to customers ahead of schedule. The news has sadly been overshadowed by the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which poses a massive threat to the automotive industry and the world at large.
Tesla initially opted to keep its US factories open, despite a "shelter in place" order coming for the entire California Bay Area. Due to the growing coronavirus concerns, Tesla will "temporarily suspend" its Gigafactory and Fremont plant starting on March 23. No time table has been given for when production will resume.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House has urged automakers like Ford and General Motors to produce medical equipment such as ventilators to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Ford and GM are currently in talks with White House officials to convert their manufacturing capacity towards building ventilators.
While no modifications have been made to any factories just yet, Tesla may be willing to help as well. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has been critical of the coronavirus-induced panic in the past, said on Twitter, "We will make ventilators if there is a shortage."
Obviously, retooling would need to be done to Tesla's Fremont factory, which currently builds the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and now the Model Y. Musk has not yet ordered any of these changes but should an order come in from the Trump administration for automakers to build ventilators, it looks like Tesla is willing to take up the call. Automakers famously transitioned from building cars to tanks, planes, and ammunition during World War II. In this global disaster, the automakers may be called on once again.