Ford turned a $50 million profit on the $336 million contract it entered with the U.S. government this year to help to build 50,000 ventilators for the Department of Health and Human Service’s national stockpile, but it won’t be putting any of it in the bank.
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Company Chairman Bill Ford Jr. announced in a LinkedIn post that the automaker is reinvesting the funds into future COVID-fighting efforts, including the production of 100 million masks that it will donate to underserved communities.
Jim Baumbick, Ford's vice president of enterprise product line management, oversaw the effort and said the surplus was the result of purchasing and manufacturing efficiencies realized during the project by Ford, General Electric and their suppliers.
“We just kept track of our costs and worked with our partners at GE to make sure to recoup the cost and anything that was leftover was always going to be on the mission of trying to give it back to COVID-related charities,” he told FOX Business.
Ford started manufacturing masks for its workers returning to work, and Baumbick said his team leveraged the insight from that to scale up production and develop a child-size version.
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“One of the early things we saw was that to help get kids back to school, it starts with trying to protect them so they’re not carriers of the virus, even if they’re not showing symptoms,” Baumbick said.
The masks are being distributed through several of the Ford Fund’s partner organizations, and many Ford dealers are holding distribution days at showrooms for their local communities.
Baumbick said his team, which earlier this year developed a powered air-purifying respirator using the fan from a climate-controlled F-150 seat, is also researching a way to combine HEPA filters with box fans to potentially clear the virus from enclosed spaces.
“We have good evidence that you can pull out the virus that might be in the air if you circulate the air and filter it.”