Circular business models, where OEMs recirculate products over multiple lifespans, require products that are designed in a different way. One particular problem of extended product use via multiple lifecycles is the risk of product obsolescence. Designers must create products that can adapt to unforeseeable futures, where changes to consumer needs, policies and technologies cannot be predicted. This study takes a multi-level perspective on the internal and external factors that affects long lasting and multiple lifecycle products within a circular business model, and explores potential design strategies for future-adaptable products.
A future adaptable vehicle is a durable vehicle that is easy to maintain and repair and where components can be replaced and upgraded to improve energy efficiency and performance when new technologies become available. Future adaptable products make it possible to use products and components over a longer period, and thus reduce waste, and benefit from technological innovation by upgrading components that improve environmental performance. Additional measures to keep products relevant and able to satisfy the changing needs of customers are also part of the adaptable design thinking, and counteract the trend of discarding products before their technical end-of-life.
The research in this study explores what types of obsolescence are currently limiting the lifespans of four products: construction machinery, passenger cars, vehicle interior, and heavy-duty vehicles.