I agree, Warren, the used hybrid or EV is a mystery. And it seems late in the game for it to still be a mystery. The resale value of your car should not be such a mystery at the moment you buy the vehicle. Otherwise, how can you asses the value?
Bobj - thanks for your feedback and I'm glad you found the information useful.
And thank you for bringing up another consideration for DfD.
While I included a few examples of poor decisions that impact disassembly including using a mix of fastener standards (ask any auto mechanic - GM is famous for using both metric and English fasteners on the same component), I neglected to mention the exceptions. DfD needs to be balanced with planned restricted access, and may have to be sacrificed in cases like the one you pointed out, when you don't want untrained hands accessing componentry.
Needing specialized tools can be frustrating when trying to disassemble a product, but preventing those people from inadvertently touching a charged capacitor or destroying an expensive component during the product's useful lifecycle sometimes outweighs other priorities.
Very informative post Clinton. I worked several years in the appliance industry and the first indication DfD was necessary was when dealing with countries in the EU. Our products were not "friendly" in the least when considering disassembly and possible reuse of components. That industry long ago stopped using materials, primarily metals, that were hazardous health-wise but disassembly was not a primary concern. They are getting better now but with a long way to go. The primary concern was damage done during shipment AND the use of specialty tools when components were NOT to be taken apart or to encourage a home owner to call a trained individual when needing repairs. Your eight (8) comments are very timely. Many thanks.
Clinton, thanks for that link. This basic problem must have occurred before--what happens to an old material when a new material replaces it? In the old, pre-recyling days, the old materials probably got landfilled. Because recycling gives more visibility to such problems, we're all made more aware of them. This is not to diminish the severity of the problem, but I think it does give some perspective. At least now we know the problem exists, instead of it being hidden under heaps of garbage, and can hopefully find ways of dealing with it.
The HP program was one of the first that I heard about also. I believe it was implemented after the rash of news reports on the toxic acres of dumped PC and accessory parts in Third World countries. If I remember correctly, it was an unusually quick response for a large corporation to a topical issue.
Interestingly, I just read a N.Y. Times article about the problem they are having with recycling the old cathode ray tubes. The recycling process for the leaded glass and infrastructure to implement it had been successfully running for years.
However, with the switch from analog to digital broadcasting, and the related switch from CRTs to flat screens, the supply of disposed CRTs increased exponentially at the same time the demand disappeared. Flat screens don't use leaded glass and there are not enough other products that do to offset the huge supply of waste.
So as the article points out, the disposed CRTs are not being recycled, but stored, and they are creating their own little toxic waste sites.
I think Clinton has a good point about where the focus on end-of-life has come from--it's the darn government, in this case European governments. The concept of corporate responsibility for product afterlife is pretty strong in Europe and Japan, but barely existent in the US. I don't know about everyone else, but I first heard of it here with printers, specifically HP's recycling program.
This case study bears further analysis. Do the touted eco-benefits of the hybrid and electrical vehicles realized while they are in use outweigh the almost certain obsolescence of the entire vehicle because of the cost of replacement batteries?
Depending on overall quality of the design, engineering and manufacturing, a regular car's expected lifetime is somewhat open-ended as Warren pointed out. If the cost of the replacement batteries for a hybrid/electric vehicle eclipse the market value of the rest of the car, it seems like the expected lifetime of these cars is tied directly to the battery and is close-ended.
If third party aftermarket parties don't figure out a cost-effective solution to this puzzle, at least DfD will make parting out the car easier...
Good point...on the cost of ownership side, a friend is in auto financing and leasing. She said they are preparing for a flood of 1st generation hybrids that will have low residual values. The earliest ones are nearing end of life on batteries. The replacement cost will exceed the value of the car, which will boil down to the value when they are parted-out.
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