Ford is calling for workers to volunteer to make the life saving devices.
Workers at Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant are trading V8s for air pumps as the automaker has tapped that factory - home of the Ford Mustang muscle car and Lincoln Continental luxury sedan - to produce life-saving ventilators as the US finds itself in increasingly short supply. Ventilators are essential equipment in the fight against the current novel coronavirus outbreak, helping to support breathing for patients whose lung function has been impaired by the disease.
Ford is just one of several automakers to volunteer its services to helping virus response efforts, with GM also signing up to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment, and Jaguar Land Rover lending hundreds of vehicles to emergency responders overseas.
Ford has begun reaching out to plant workers in order to staff up as ventilator production gets underway.
The Flat Rock plant lies in Southeast Michigan, which has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, with the number of new confirmed cases at one time increasing faster than anywhere else in the country. Michigan as a whole has a high rate of infection compared to the rest of the Midwest, and suffers one of the highest death counts of any state in the country
Ford's Flat Rock plant will call upon a total workforce of about 90 - roughly 4 percent of its usual staff size - to pump out ventilators over two ten hour shifts each day of the work week, plus a weekend shift.
"This is a call to action for a cause that transcends everyday comforts," said the message sent to Flat Rock assembly workers. "It is an opportunity to make a bad situation better, and help our medical professionals, first responders, and all affected by COVID-19."
Ford has had to get creative with its ventilator plans, working with 3M to design a unit that uses a Ford F-150 seat blower. The company is looking to put out some 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days, with the capacity to produce another 30,000 per month as needed thereafter. In addition, the automaker is creating hundreds of thousands of transparent protective face masks for healthcare workers and others working on the front lines.