Built-in obsolescence is the design of objects for a specific lifespan. The idea is that when one object fails, you’ll buy another one. It is a very wasteful business model, especially when the things being designed could last so much longer.
Take cars for example. Modern cars are made from many materials with a limited lifespan, and designed with fixings that aren’t meant to be repaired or replaced. Just look at the faded and cracked bumpers hanging off many cars just a few years old. Beyond a certain point, maintaining them becomes uneconomical for all but the keenest enthusiast or expert mechanic.
This seems mad to me, especially in the current climate — both environmental and economic. We are a world in need of solutions to the mounting carbon problem, and looking for ways to spend less. With these factors in mind the retail model of the car industry looks increasingly flawed.
Why not make cars that are designed to last us twice or three times as long and change the business model from one of regular retail sales to one of lifetime maintenance?
Of course this would require cultural changes too. But if cars were designed to be upgraded with new safety and comfort features over time, the opportunities for customisation and personalisation could be enormously attractive to consumers.
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