What will be the very most interesting is to see how the aftermarket plays out in 5the EV battery area. I can easily see a possiblity that the battery packs will have an electronic serial number and manufacturers code and that the vehicle could be easily set up to not run without an OEM battery. That would assure a captive market for replacement battery packs, no matter how much they cost. So it would be quite prudent for a law preventing that sort of thing to be put in place prior to the problem becoming a big issue. Already we have computers and cell phones that won't function with other than OEM batteries, which happen to cost a lot more. How vwery convenient.
So purchasing a used EV will be an interesting excersize, possibly in frustration. That is my guess.
I'm not sure that the automotive industry itself was ahead of the curve. Excluding the used car market which for the purposes of design for disassembly can be viewed as an extension of the primary life of the product (same product use, different owner), it was parties outside of the Big Three that saw the opportunity and value of the car corpses. That vision took the form of reselling the used components, sub-assemblies or scrap metal and made that re-use/recycle stream a reality. Having worked in product engineering for GM for 5 years, I know that product "afterlife" was rarely given any consideration even when it was cost-neutral to do so.
The auto industry has gotten better in recent years, but that improvement hasn't really originated within the automotive industry - it has mostly been driven by European governmental policy which emphasizes corporate responsibility for product afterlife.
If I had to pick one point in time that seemed to have catalyzed the current trend of design for disassembly, I'd probably pick the investigative reports and documentation of the dumping of PCs and electronic peripherals in Third World countries and the major environmental poisoning resulting from it. For some reason, those stories had legs in both the media and around the "water coolers".
Good point, Rob. For some reason, the auto industry has yet to give much thought to the recyclability of lithium-ion EV batteries. The best guess I've heard is that we know it's about 80% recyclable. Beyond that, there's not much agreement on what to do with it.
Good point, Rob. With a standard ICE car, you know what to do when it gets old. You can replace the engine and transmission with a new or rebuilt one. You can put in a new gas tank. Upgrade the radio. Rework the suspension. You can add decades of life to a standard car. But what do you do with an old hybrid? We don't know, yet. But it ain't that easy or straightforward, I bet.
The automotive industry has long been head of the curve on the afterlife of its products. Even after a vehicle has been passed from owner to owner, the system of handling scrap cars is well developed. That is until electrical vehicles. The value of a used EV -- even a hybrid -- may be compromised by the cost of a replacement battery. Car buyers could long depend on the resale value of their existing car as they evaluated the worth of a vehicle. This is not clear with EVs and hybrids. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over coming years.
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From design feasibility, to development, to production, having the right information to make good decisions can ultimately keep a product from failing validation. The key is highly focused information that doesn’t come from conventional, statistics-based tests but from accelerated stress testing.
There’s a good chance that a few of the things mentioned here won't fully come to fruition in 2015 but rather much later down the line. However, as Malcolm X once said, "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
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