Tesla engineers show off prototype ventilator

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VICE PRESIDENT OF VEHICLE ENGINEERING AT TESLA, LARS MORAVY, SAYING:"Hey, guys, a lot of stuff going on here over the Corona virus, so this is Tesla Engineering. We're in the lab and we've been working on some stuff."

That's Tesla Vice President Lars Moravy.

And the stuff in question is a prototype ventilator.

Tesla, like many firms, trying to help tackle a shortage of the vital hospital equipment.

The U.S. alone is thought to need tens of thousands more of the devices, which help patients breathe.

The automaker has tried to produce a new design using technology it's familiar with.

Engineering director Joseph Mardall: (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGINEERING DIRECTOR AT TESLA, JOSEPH MARDALL, SAYING:"We want to use parts that we know really well, we know the reliability of and we can go really fast and they're available in volume. So, so here's kind of a high level schematic design, you can see all the red parts here are Tesla vehicle parts, so we've used a lot of those."

The prototype was unveiled Sunday (April 5) evening.

Tesla founder Elon Musk says they will be supplied free to U.S. hospitals.

But there's no word yet on when deliveries might start.

Many other U.S. firms are making efforts.

Ford said last week it would produce 50,000 ventilators within 100 days.

General Motors aims to be making 10,000 a month by the summer.

The need is pressing.

White House medical experts say between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die during the virus outbreak.

That's even if sweeping orders to stay at home are heeded.