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Car Purchase 14 - Planned Lifespan?






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Wouldn't it be great for the manufacturers, if they were able to determine exactly how long a product or component would last. After all, nothing is more annoying, than if one has just conquered the market at enormous cost, e.g., through advertising, then discovers that the market is sated because of the durability of one's own products.

The expression in Latin, is planned obsolescence, which means that the product will become obsolete after a certain length of time and won't be used any longer. A lot of consumers recently suspect, that this is something which is being applied more and more by the manufacturers, to increase their earnings, even if only to ensure that their own workshops are kept busy.

Could this possibly also apply to the motor industry, who maintain any number of dedicated workshops? If e.g., you take the allegedly flexible service interval display on the dashboard, it will mercilessly remind you that you have an inspection coming up, even though your car is being very well cared for and your driving is gentle. Is it possible that the workshop itself, plays a part?!

The whole business of mistrust started with computer-printers, which suddenly stopped printing, even after being given new ink-cartridges. Then, the people who repair electric motors found out, that carbon brushes of differing lengths were being used, this affected the lifespan of the printers. Yes, you may say, but this is in the field of digital- or electronics technology.

Of course you're right, but nowadays the motor car is also packed full of the above mentioned technology. Nowadays, it is even more complicated, to manufacture economically, without the co-operation of the suppliers. And this is where we find the first hurdle in the road to planned obsolescence. Either the manufacturer and the supplier are in this together (making it difficult to change the supplier), or the supplier is acting independently, in which case, has the wrath of the manufacturers to deal with if he is caught out.

At this point, it's important that we emphasize, that we're not dealing with low-quality materials or poor workmanship, which can occasionally occur, even in premium brand-names. What we've got here, is deliberately reducing the quality of a product, making it necessary to buy a new product earlier.

Have you ever thought about how this would function? Let's try by using a rather macabre example: If you could choose, which date would you choose to die on? Now remember, once you've decided, there's no turning back, the same as it is with a product that's finally been put on the market.

Suddenly, you change your mind, you don't want to die then any more, or you're bored to tears, after waiting for years. Of course, this is simply a scenario, but it does show just how difficult it is to plan the obsolescence of a product or component. Wouldn't this be damaging to the brand-name? Perhaps one would be doing his greatest rival a big favour.

And how, e.g., on the mechanical side, could an obsolescence be built in? Is it even possible, where cars are used and cared for in so many different ways? And if it is programmed into a digital part of the vehicle's electronic system it may be discovered by hackers. With the amount of time-pressure during the development, would the manufacturer be willing the carry the extra effort and the extra financial load? 08/14



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