Yet another automaker stepping in to help.
The White House has asked automakers to step up in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Ford responded by working to retrofit its production capability towards building ventilators as respirators as well as face shields for medical professionals and first responders. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has also announced plans to help fill the shortage by producing protective face masks at an astonishing rate.
FCA will pivot away from building vehicles like the Dodge Challenger Hellcat in order to produce and donate more than one million protective face masks per month. The automaker hasn't specified which of its factories will be used to produce these masks, but reports indicate that they will be sourced from one of the company's facilities in Asia, where things are starting to return back to normal after months of battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an announcement on Monday, FCA said production capacity is being installed this week and will begin manufacturing the masks in the coming weeks with initial distribution planned across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. FCA will donate the masks to police, EMTs, firefighters, and workers in hospitals and health care clinics. The automaker says this will be a multifaceted global program using its manufacturing, supply chain, and engineering expertise.
FCA will work closely with national, regional, and city authorities to ensure the masks are donated to the people who need them most. Further actions in the fight against the coronavirus will be released in the coming days, possibly related to the production of ventilators and respirators, which are also in short supply.
"Protecting our first responders and health care workers has never been more important. In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks. We've marshaled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic," said FCA CEO Mike Manley.