COVID-19

Ford manufacturing respirators, repurposing airbags as PPE, expanding test kit production

As part of its efforts to aid in the age of COVID-19, Ford is producing face masks.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has produced 3 million face shields for health care workers in the last few weeks. Now, they're expanding their COVID-19-related production efforts to include designing a new powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), producing face masks, repurposing airbags as personal protective equipment, and scaling up production of coronavirus test kits.

3M partnership yields new respirator design

Designed, developed, and tested in partnership with 3M, the PAPRs will go into production at Ford's Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan on Tuesday, April 14. They will be made by 90 paid UAW volunteers. Ford predicts that its production capability will allow it to make 100,000 or more respirators.

Ford respirator design A new respirator design was formulated by experts from Ford in consultation with 3M.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

According to a release, "Since late March, Ford manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain experts have been embedded at 3M manufacturing facilities to help increase production of urgently needed products. With this additional help, 3M and Ford were able to increase the output of PAPRs and N95 respirators at 3M's U.S.-based manufacturing facilities."

The PAPR includes a hood and face shield to cover health care professionals' heads and shoulders, while a HEPA filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to 8 hours. The air blower system – similar to the fan found in F-150's ventilated seats – is powered by a rechargeable, portable battery.

The development team expects the respirator design will meet the pending National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limited-use protocol to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, with approval anticipated by the end of April. Once approved the PAPRs will be distributed by 3M. 3M and Ford will donate any profits they earn from the sale of the PAPR to COVID-19 related nonprofit organizations.

"We knew that to play our part helping combat coronavirus, we had to go like hell and join forces with experts like 3M to expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies, said Jim Baumbick, vice president, Ford Enterprise Product Line Management. "In just three weeks under Project Apollo, we've unleashed our world-class manufacturing, purchasing and design talent to get scrappy and start making personal protection equipment and help increase the availability and production of ventilators."

Face masks are being made in Michigan

Ford is also currently producing face masks at their Van Dyke Transmission Plant for internal use globally and pursuing certification for medical use. Production began earlier this week using materials provided by Ford's roster of global suppliers.

There are 30 UAW paid volunteers making masks in the plant's ISO Class 8 cleanroom, which is a controlled environment with extremely low levels of pollutants, enabling the safe production of face masks for medical use. Ford anticipates approximately 80 UAW paid volunteers will make masks as production increases.

Additionally, Ford has started providing manufacturing expertise to help scientific instrument provider Thermo Fisher Scientific quickly expand production of COVID-19 collection kits to test for the virus.

Ford Airbag gown production Ford has teamed with its airbag supplier to create reusable gowns.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Using airbags to create PPE

Ford is working with airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems to create reusable gowns made from the material that is used to make Ford airbags. Production of the personal protective equipment is anticipated to reach 75,000 gowns per week by Sunday and scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19. By July 4, Joyson Safety Systems will be able to cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.

Ford worked with Beaumont Health in Detroit to design the gown pattern and test for sizing during fit and function trials. More than 5,000 gowns have already been delivered to the hospital.

Scaling up collection kits for COVID-19 tests

Ford is helping scale production of collection kits for COVID-19 tests at Thermo Fisher Scientific. The companies are utilizing Thermo Fisher's Lenexa, Kansas facility and Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant engineering team.

Work continues on ventilator production

The ford and GE Healthcare initiative to produce ventilators continues. Work at Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan is underway to transform a portion of the plant in to a production facility by April 20. Built by paid UAW volunteers, the goal is to produce 50,000 Model A-E ventilators by July 4.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Ford is givinng Mustang Mach-E GT buyers the option of upgrading to an even more powerful variant next year.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The first Ford Mustang Mach-E hasn't even been delivered to a customer yet, but the company is wasting no time expanding its model lineup. The Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition is joining the stable giving more boost to the crossover. Ford is targeting a 3.5-second zero to 60 mph time for the model.

Ford says that the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance will deliver 480 horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque to drivers. It is targeted to have an EPA-estimated range of 253 miles. Ford has been spot-on with its mileage estimates so far. The EPA just finalized their estimated range for a number of Mustang Mach-Es and only one was not what the company had initially said - it was one mile better.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT The Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric vehicle.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"We already pushed the envelope by creating an electric vehicle with the pony badge, so it's only natural that we push it even further," said Darren Palmer, global director, battery electric vehicles, Ford Motor Company. "Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition not only gives you the added performance you expect from the GT name, but accentuates the thrill with the responsiveness of an all-electric powertrain."

The new car isn't just a performance boost from the power plant. Ford is giving the model 19-inch front brakes with red-painted Brembo calipers. The model will ride on 20-inch machined-face Ebonny Black-painted pocket wheels that are wrapped in 245/45R20 Pirelli summer tires. Its standard MagneRide damping system helps to enhance handling. At the rear isa. Performance Edition GT badge.

The interior gets and upgrade too. The Ford Performance-sculpted front seats feature Performance Gray ActiveX material with metallic stitching and unique Miko perforated reflective inserts.The all-digital instrument panel has an aluminum appliqué.

Both Mustang Mach-E GT and Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition will be available in signature Mustang colors including Cyber Orange Metallic Tri-Coat, Dark Matter Gray Metallic, Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Star White Metallic Tri-Coat, Grabber Blue Metallic, Shadow Black, Iconic Silver Metallic and Space White Metallic.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT The model features unique tires, brakes, and interior appointments.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Reserve the Mustang Mach-E GT here. Customers who have already reserved the Mustang Mach-E GT will have the opportunity to add the Performance Edition package at time of ordering in spring 2021.

Mustang Mach-E GT and GT Performance Edition will be available late next summer.

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Ford has cowboy up with the new Expedition King Ranch and Platinum for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

As is true with the 2020 Ford F-150, the 2020 Ford Expedition's King Ranch trim level sits in a sweet spot in the lineup. It's neither too inelegant to appeal to refined palettes nor too fancy to appeal to more rugged types. On top of that, Ford has given the model the type of accommodations that are good for children and adults.

As tested, the 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch came in at $74,885, That includes the $72,895 base price, $595 paint color surcharge, and a $1,395 destination and delivery fee. Granted, that's a lot of money, but it's not nearly as expensive as the Expedition's more premium rivals like the Cadillac Escalade. Out of the Expedition's four trim levels, the King Ranch sits three out of four with only the Expedition Platinum being better appointed and pricier.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The Expedition mirrors the last-generation Explorer in the looks department.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Expedition, for all intents and purposes, is the SUV version of Ford F-Series. While its exterior looks more like the last-generation Explorer than the F-150, it's setting foot in the interior that tells the true story. The entire dashboard, center console, and seat design is straight from the F-150 and Super Duty playbook. This isn't a bad thing. The F-Series lineup is filled with very good trucks.

The exterior of the Expedition King Ranch has a more panache than the trucks. From its standard 22-inch six-spoke painted machined-face aluminum wheels with dark tarnish-painted pockets and King Ranch center caps to the Stone Gray-colored grille mesh, lower bumpers, power running boards, rear bumper skid plate, trailer hitch cover, roof. rack side rails, and side mirror caps, the model wears a bit of its upscale sheen right up front where all those near the Expedition can see it.

The King Ranch theme continues to the interior of the Expedition where Ebony Del Rio leather covers the door trim and Mesa Del Rio leather covers the armrests and steering wheel. Kingsville stitching, named after the town where the historic King Ranch is located in Texas, features on the steering wheel. The center console is a combination of Del Rio leather and Ziricote wood veneer.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The interior of the model is richly appointed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The result is a look that rivals the materials in the redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, the Expedition's chief rivals. The seats in the Expedition's front and second row are just as comfy and small item storage is just as available.

Where the competition has the edge is the Expedition's infotainment system. The standard 8.0-inch screen is small compared to what others in the vehicle's class now offer. That being said, the roster of tech that accompanies the screen is good and includes satellite radio, voice recognition, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Upgrading gets a buyer keyless entry, remote start, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, a Bang & Olufson sound system, HD Radio, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard on all Expeditions. The suite of driver assist and safety technology includes automatic high beams, blind spot warning with cross traffic alert, lane keep alert and assist, pre-collision assist with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Upper tier models gets adaptive cruise control. The system works as advertised and doesn't prove too annoying during daily use.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The leather-wrapped steering wheel features Kingsville stitching.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Driving the Expedition King Ranch is easy but there's no getting around the fact that it's a large SUV based on a truck platform. Driving the Suburban and Yukon is an easier, more connected experience. Still, driving these SUVs is nowhere near as taxing as it was 15 years ago.

The Expedition is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque for use. Acceleration off the line creates confidence, but you won't see the SUV making any speed records any time soon. The larger engines in the General Motors rivals deliver a more inspiring effort but are slightly less fuel efficient (19 mpg vs. 17/18 mpg for the Suburban when similarly equipped).

The 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch is the most premium model you can get without going full Platinum. For daily driving, it's all the Expedition you'll need, coupled with higher-end appointments and sophisticated looks.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The second-row seats in the Expedition are nearly as comfortable as those up front.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

However, if you're looking to spend $70,000 or more on an SUV, it is worth cross-shopping the new Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon. Both offer compelling reasons to choose them over the Expedition. That being said, if you're a Blue Oval family and opt for the Expedition, when you go out to your driveway and hop inside, you likely won't be disappointed.

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