Answer: Four years.
According John Rich, chief of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, we should only expect the automaker’s self-driving cars to operate for four years before they will need to be replaced. Considering that the current average lifespan of a non-driverless vehicle is about 12 years, this seems like a very small window.
Per TechCrunch, Rich later explained that this reasoning has to do with how often an AV will be in use each day. Right now, our cars spend as much if not more time parked than they do in operation on a day-to-day basis. However, since it will likely be a long time before individual consumers are shuttling around in their own driverless cars, Ford expects that its AVs will initially operate in fleets. This means that they will spend most of their days moving, thus rapidly increasing the amount of wear and tear that they endure.
Thankfully, cars recycle well — up to 86 percent of a decommissioned vehicle’s materials can be recycled and reused.