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Regional and Longitudinal Estimation of Product Lifespan Distribution: A Case Study for Automobiles and a Simplified Estimation Method

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journal contribution
posted on 03.02.2015, 00:00 by Masahiro Oguchi, Masaaki Fuse
Product lifespan estimates are important information for understanding progress toward sustainable consumption and estimating the stocks and end-of-life flows of products. Publications reported actual lifespan of products; however, quantitative data are still limited for many countries and years. This study presents regional and longitudinal estimation of lifespan distribution of consumer durables, taking passenger cars as an example, and proposes a simplified method for estimating product lifespan distribution. We estimated lifespan distribution parameters for 17 countries based on the age profile of in-use cars. Sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the shape parameter of the lifespan distribution can be replaced by a constant value for all the countries and years. This enabled a simplified estimation that does not require detailed data on the age profile. Applying the simplified method, we estimated the trend in average lifespans of passenger cars from 2000 to 2009 for 20 countries. Average lifespan differed greatly between countries (9–23 years) and was increasing in many countries. This suggests consumer behavior differs greatly among countries and has changed over time, even in developed countries. The results suggest that inappropriate assumptions of average lifespan may cause significant inaccuracy in estimating the stocks and end-of-life flows of products.