Should automakers give their buyers access to vehicle software to facilitate repairs? In the state of Massachusetts, voters were able to give their preferred answer to this question in the U.S. presidential election. The auto industry is fighting back even before the outcome of the vote is known, suddenly arguing with concerns about data protection.
«Planned obsolescence» is a term heard more and more often in recent years when discussing the quality and durability of products in modern industry. Planned obsolescence refers to the rapid and planned aging of products, especially by intentionally limiting the durability of various components. That is, predetermined breakage points in household appliances, electronic devices and many other products that force their users to throw away items more quickly and replace them with new ones.
The idea of planned obsolescence is not new. As early as 1928, the strategy was described by Justus George Frederick, an American advertising executive: Frederick suggested that people would have to buy an ever-increasing variety of things, which they would then throw away and replace with newly purchased ones, in order to maintain the consumer economy.
Apart from moral concerns, this view also entails environmental problems: while products that are still fairly new end up in landfills around the world by the millions instead of being refurbished and sold second-hand, at the same time new consumer goods are constantly being produced, the manufacture of which is often very harmful to the environment. This is especially true for many electronic devices.
Take the smartphone as an example: a common smartphone contains around 70 different chemical elements, almost two-thirds of the entire periodic table of the elements. About 83% of the climate-damaging emissions for which a standard iPhone is responsible over its lifetime are emitted during production, reports the US daily New York Times. Even in the case of a washing machine, which consumes considerably more electricity, the figure is still 57%.