Having said earlier it plans to restart production at most of its main continental European vehicle and engine plants from 4 May, Ford said it was now producing face masks in the UK and face shields at other sites in Europe for employees working during the COVID-19 crisis.

Production of personal protective equipment is under way at facilities in the UK, Germany, Spain and Romania.

"This is designed to ensure that [our] intention to restart initial production at most of [our] main continental European vehicle and engine plants next week does not add to worldwide demand for such personal protective equipment," the automaker said.

The company plans to increase output to meet demand for the full resumption of European operations, combining with a similar facility in the US to provide global coverage of face masks for its employees worldwide.

The Dunton Campus in the UK has installed two new purpose-built machines capable of producing between 60 and 90 general-use, disposable face masks per minute. Three teams of 10 will work around the clock to produce the masks.

The machines were sourced from China with help from Ford workers in that country.

The Rapid Prototyping Centre, in Merkenich, Germany, will produce all face shields using in house injection moulding machines to produce up to 5,000 a day for use across Europe.

In Valencia, Spain, Ford has been using 3D printing to produce 300 face shields per day while in Craiova, Romania, around 10,000 face shields have already been produced for employees and the local dealer network.