Tesla CEO Elon Musk vows to make ventilators at Buffalo plant that got $750M state subsidy

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New York invested 750 million dollars to support the construction of a solar cell plant in Buffalo. Now the plant could prove useful in the fight against the corona virus.

Elon Musk, Tesla‘s CEO, said the company’s solar factory hopes to begin manufacturing fans as soon as possible at the sprawling Riverbend factory, which has struggled for years to meet the state’s high expectations.

“Giga New York will reopen for fan production as soon as humanly possible,” Musk twittered on Wednesday afternoon. “We will do everything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

Musk’s comments came after the Irish-based company Medtronic announced it had already worked with Tesla to speed up production of ventilators at a California facility.

The decision in Buffalo comes after production at the solar plant was temporarily suspended last week due to the New York ban on all non-essential business and services.

Respirators are urgently needed in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said daily.

The state needs 30,000 ventilators to address the shortage of ventilators as the number of positive cases exceeded 30,000 on Wednesday.

The state only has about 4,000 ventilators.

“We are still working with the federal government to find more ventilators, but this is our biggest challenge,” Cuomo said on Wednesday.

Last month, Panasonic Corp. said it would stop producing solar panels at its Buffalo factory.

But California-based Tesla has vowed to continue production at the plant, telling the state that its so-called Giga factory in New York produces about 1,000 solar roofs a week for residential buildings.

Before the corona virus brought production to a halt, Tesla promised to employ 1,460 people at the Buffalo factory by April.

The state would have fined the company $41 million if it failed to meet the job creation targets set when New York lured the company to New York seven years ago as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative.

Congressman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, had earlier this week urged Musk to manufacture fans in Buffalo. He told Buffalo News that Tesla apparently wants to manufacture components for ventilators at the plant to support Medtronic’s production.

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I am The Washington Newsday correspondent. I cover general science and Nasa news. I have been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018. You can contact me at [email protected]

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