Systems engineering is not a new discipline for todays automotive OEMs and suppliers. So, why is it that many feel the discipline is under-utilized or not utilized at all in main-stream product development? For those that do believe systems engineering is a key activity in the development cycle, why is it common to disagree on a definition of what it is or how it manifests itself in the development cycle?If we examine the development activity of leading OEM's and suppliers in any industry, there can be no doubt that product development is a complex and intensive activity. Many disciplines are utilized with many specialized skills deployed throughout the lifecycle of the typical product, and even more so in the automotive industry. One can point to several processes that seem to indicate the presence of systems engineering, yet the ability to clearly define whether or not - and to what degree - we leverage systems engineering is still difficult. This paper will explore the benefits of looking at systems engineering as a core process from which the automotive community develops products and technology.