- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Ford Motor Company on Tuesday announced it was teaming up with 3M and General Electric to scale production of ventilators and protective masks in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re talking about producing hundreds of thousands of these ventilators in the future,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said on “CBS This Morning.”

Mr. Hackett said that in addition to a partnership with GE Health, the company is also working on a project in the U.K. at the behest of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Just to put that in perspective, an F-150 — one is built every 52 seconds,” Mr. Hackett said. “So the ventilators … as these collective companies come together, we have to scale up something like that. So we’re talking about early June where we don’t think it’s a problem. But between now and June, it’s about ramping up.”

He said that in addition to ventilators, there’s a greater need for protective masks that rely on air pressure.

“Hundreds of thousands of the simplest ones will [start] to be produced in the next week or so,” Mr. Hackett said.

The company said they’re working with 3M to try to scale production of respirators, with a combination of Ford and 3M parts, at the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Michigan.

It also said that Ford and the United Auto Workers union are manufacturing 75,000 face shields this week at a separate plant, with a goal of scaling to 100,000 shields weekly by next month.

Ford also plans to use in-house 3D printing to produce disposable respirator masks for health care workers.

Mr. Hackett said they’re working closely with the UAW on a path forward to get people back to work.

“There’s an agreement that when it’s time to go back to work, everyone’s going to go back to work,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get through this quarantine period where everyone has a job and then on the other side quickly rebuild demand.”

Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler had previously announced they were stopping production at North America plants because of the coronavirus.

Fiat Chrysler on Monday announced plans to start manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks per month.

General Motors recently announced a partnership with Ventec Life Systems to try to ramp up the production of ventilators.

President Trump has cited such voluntary efforts as one reason to delay an aggressive implementation of the Defense Production Act, which gives the president broad latitude to force private companies to procure certain goods.

Various governors and congressional Democrats have called on Mr. Trump to use the Korean War-era law, saying that there needs to be a better sense of order in the supply chain for needed medical supplies in the COVID-19 response.

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