Long time Evo writer Harry Metcalfe has left the magazine to work for Jaguar Land Rover, in a role that is the dream of journalists everywhere: helping to develop halo versions of their current and future model range.
A frequent meme on TTAC (at least when you see my byline) is the denigration of what I call the armchair product planning brigade, the peanut gallery cohort who insist that OEMs import diesels, build station wagons and equip every car with a manual transmission. It’s easy to call for these kinds of cars without an understanding of the auto market and the economic and regulatory realities that underpin it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that TTAC helped open my eyes to them.
In my brief career as an auto writer, I have had the privilege of seeing what really goes into automotive product planning. Before I had any understanding of how the industry worked, I thought it was simply a cabal of guys and girls who liked to sit and talk about cars and decide on what would get built by the car company. In other words, it seemed like the best job in the world. Little did I realize how difficult and exacting the job really is.
My estimation of the profession has only increased as I’ve had more access to that side of the industry. It is a job that requires attention to detail, hours of Excel spreadsheets, and endless presentations to senior management. Everything must be justified on an economic basis to finance people who want to do things for as little money as possible.
All in all it is an essential job that most people who discuss cars on the internet tend to believe they could do better. Personally, I’m not so sure I could. But Harry Metcalfe seems to have, against all odds, landed that dream-like version of the Product Planning gig, the one where someone is paying you to act as a visionary for a range of high-performance luxury cars. Best of luck to Harry and Jaguar Land Rover.