Ford Motor Co. plans to build simple medical ventilators at a components plant in Michigan and says it hopes to produce 50,000 of the devices over the next three months. Ventilators have been in short supply as the coronavirus pandemic grows in New York City and other hot spots around the country.
Production will start in late April at Ford's Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, the automaker said Monday. Output will ramp up over time, with the bulk of the 50,000 devices being built in June.
Ford, working in collaboration with GE Health, will be using an existing design from a small medical technology company called Airon. Ford is also, separately, working with GE Health to ramp up production of a more complex, fully featured ventilator.
A union representing GE employees has pushed for the company to use existing staff — who are facing layoffs — to build ventilators, rather than using auto workers. On a call with reporters, a GE Health executive said the decision to partner with Ford was made in order to deliver ventilators as quickly as possible.
The federal government has been pushing automakers to help manufacture ventilators, essential medical equipment that can save the lives of patients with severe COVID-19 cases.
However, Ford says the government has not finalized agreements to purchase those ventilators.
General Motors is preparing to build ventilators at an Indiana components plant, for a company called Ventec Life Systems.