Ford to build 50,000 ventilators within 100 days to help coronavirus patients

Ford plans to produce 50,000 ventilators within 100 days to help meet the demand for the machines critical to fighting the coronavirus.

Through a partnership with GE Healthcare, the automaker said it will start making ventilators by the week of April 20 at its car-parts plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan with the goal of producing 50,000 by July 4 and up to 30,000 per month after that.

“The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers,” Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett said in Monday statement.

The initiative — which a Trump administration official compared to Ford’s production of tanks during World War II — comes as states face shortages of the machines that can help keep coronavirus patients alive. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state will need as many as 30,000 ventilators when the virus crisis peaks in the American epicenter of the pandemic.

GE Healthcare will license the design for the ventilators from Airon Corp., a Florida-based company specializing in high-tech life-support products, according to a news release. The machine runs on air pressure and doesn’t need electricity to treat coronavirus patients, Ford said.

Workers at Ford’s Michigan plant will manufacture ventilators “nearly around the clock” at a rate of 7,200 machines a week at full production, the company said. That’s far more than Airon’s current production of three of its pNeuton Model A ventilators each day.

Ford’s announcement came after President Trump pressured the company in a Friday tweet to “GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!” Trump invoked the Defense Production Act that day to force rival automaker General Motors to make ventilators.

But Peter Navarro, the White House’s Defense Production Act coordinator, praised Ford Monday for helping the nation’s “full-scale war” against the virus.

“Just as Ford in the last century moved its manufacturing might seamlessly from auto to tank production during World War II, the Ford team is working with GE Healthcare to use its awesome engineering and manufacturing capabilities to voluntarily help this nation solve one of its most pressing problems,” Navarro said in a statement.

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