Self-driving has been hailed as a replacement for the current way of driving. However, one question that has never been asked about self-driving cars is how long they will last.

In an interview with the Telegraph, John Rich, operations chief of Ford Autonomous Vehicles division, stated that the decreasing global demand for self-driving cars was worrisome. He added that the company will "exhaust and crush a car every four years."

Four years is much less than an average car's lifespan – the average car owner hangs on to his car for an average of 12 years. But why is it so much less? Self-driving cars, to be profitable, will not have to go by the current car ownership model. We currently use cars for personal use and most of the time they are parked rather than on the road. Meanwhile, self-driving cars, to be profitable, will need to run 24/7. Instead of owning a car, people will have to just summon one online.

Car ownership will have to rest only with certain entities rather than with everyone. These cars will be on the road 24/7 and available immediately to people. Cars will not need to be parked since they will not need a driver to be designated. To be profitable, companies will have to operate whole fleets of such cars. Because they will be run at such pace, the cars will have more persistent wear and tear than regular cars, affecting their life cycle.

In addition to this, the cars will have more parts than regular cars, increasing the risk of breakage. Another risk is the depletion of onboard tech such as batteries.

Rich further stated that even the charging capabilities will need to be better. Like smartphones, these cars will need fast charging capabilities to save time and money. Batteries are expected to degrade with repeated charging.

Now that the lifecycle is determined, what about junking the cars once they are done with? Ford has plans for that too. The company plans to make cars that are recyclable – the company claims that 86 percent of the material of these cars will be recycled and reused.

Chrysler Pacifica
Waymo unveils a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 8, 2017 Reuters