Since the 1940's, the planning of new cars and trucks has progressed from executive dictate through engineers- control, stylists influence, planners- domain to managers- leadership. It evolved from art to rudimentary science toward management discipline. Now it is recognized as a specialty requiring a broad professional approach. Product selection gave way to product planning, project management, program management and brand management as product creation and development became more important and more demanding.
This paper traces the history of product determination in the U.S. car and light truck industry, explores the product factors forcing progress as the planning function evolves, examines the training, experience and capabilities of those practitioners who determine car and truck offerings, pictures the trade-off pressures buffeting them, and forecasts requirements for them and their staffs.
To succeed in the intense competition for the world's personal mobility markets, further refining of the skills, people, organizations and motivations involved is necessary.