Ford Puts Expiration on Autonomous Vehicles

The company sees self-driving vehicles as only lasting four years before retirement.

August 30, 2019

DEARBORN, Mich.—How long is the shelf life for self-driving cars? A mere four years, according to John Rich, operations chief for Ford autonomous vehicles, Teslarati reports.

While Rich believes the world will soon have many fully automated vehicles on the roads, he doesn’t believe those cars will last long before retirement. Still, it’s good for business. “The thing that worries me least in this world is decreasing demand for cars. We will exhaust and crush a car every four years in this business,” he said.

Rich said that autonomous vehicles will have much more use than traditional cars, which will mean self-driving vehicles will experience more wear and tear. “Every shred of evidence we’ve seen says that as you drive down [the] cost per mile, the miles traveled goes up. You start to help underserved populations, you start to move a lot more people,” he said.

Analysts have predicted that demand for traditional vehicles will drop as self-driving cars become more commonplace. These analysts also forecast a decline in private car ownership. Some automakers are starting to address that concern, such as Tesla using leased-returned Model 3s in its Robotaxi fleet.

Meanwhile, retailers are continuing to test autonomous vehicles. But consumers might be cooling on self-driving vehicles, according to a recent study.