Are Easy-to-Recycle Cars Less Durable?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

In tune with the times, automakers are making their vehicles easier to recycle. But is this effort making the vehicles less durable? Look at the designs Toyota put into the Prius to make it easy to dismantle for recycling (to comply with the Japanese recyclability laws). Wiring connections that come loose when you pull on them? Soundproofing held in place with a few “ultrasonic spot welds” instead of glue? Reading lights secured with bent metal clips instead of screws? Instrument panels made so they can be pulled out easily? With design features like this you have to wonder about the vehicles’ durability and wonder what other manufactures are doing—-especially when you combine “easy to disassemble” with the beancounters’ mantra of “cheap to build.”

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Nov 12, 2009

    Toyota have spent hugely on material research and assembly methods, most of which have been making appearances in models for at least 20+ years. Prius pulls them all together to some extent I guess, but durability is the least of your worries with a Toyota. Maybe that's why they're the leader everyone likes to hate.

    • Don1967 Don1967 on Nov 12, 2009
      durability is the least of your worries with a Toyota Well, for five or six years anyway, until your engine seizes or your frame rots out.
  • Don1967 Don1967 on Nov 12, 2009

    My Nissan minivan had reading lights that were held on with bent clips most of the time. The rest of the time they were held on by their own wires and/or the forehead of the person sitting under them. But I digress. Making cars more recyclable sounds great, but in reality it is just a way of appeasing guilty minds in a wasteful society. A true tree hugger would demand a car that lasts 40 years, even if it consumed a little extra fuel and required a second mortgage. It's a helluva lot more earth-friendly than making a new car over and over again just for the sake of fresh styling and incremental improvements in efficiency.

    • Don1967 Don1967 on Nov 13, 2009

      My bad... PeteMoran, I attributed your comment to the wrong post and could not get it removed. My reply deals with the subject of Toyota durability issues. As for my assertion about the 40-year car being "nonsense", I'm not sure how to reply. Pshaw? The converse argument - that making several recyclable cars in succession is more eco-friendly than making one durable car - seems to be the one that needs some 'splainin.

  • Scottcom36 Scottcom36 on Nov 12, 2009

    What's new about this? I put a stereo in my '98 F-150 with a Crutchfield kit and it's all clips clips clips holding on the various dash/door/corner panels.