Everyone loves a comeback – and at this year’s auto show in Detroit, the buzz is about the return of American car makers to the global stage, years after a near-meltdown.
With the U.S. auto industry on the kind of upswing it hasn’t seen in more than a decade, the event is a chance to show off upcoming models at a venue that typically draws more than 5,000 journalists and 700,000 visitors.
Matthew Stover is an auto industry analyst for Guggenheim Securities…
“I think to compare and contrast this year’s show to two years ago, it’s like two different worlds. Ford is in particularly good shape. We have two very important cars for Ford and they show the change that has gone on at the Ford Motor Company. If we would have been here 10 years ago, it would have been a story of trucks, trucks, trucks. We have the Fusion in the car business, in the thick part of the car market, and the Ford Escape Crossover Utility.”
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Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, was also singing the praises of American autos, as he visited with Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne…
“They were in the worst condition ever – even worse than when Iaccoca took over – and people believed in him, believed in the idea they could redesign their cars and put new products out. The government money helped.”
Chrysler’s head of design, Ralph Gilles, says they’re focusing on interiors and will use design to cultivate a more interactive driving experience…
“Sometimes in the past, American carmakers overlooked interiors and now we want to lead in that space. We have the largest touchscreen in the industry and we have the first seven-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster, which we’ve never seen yet in this segment. We can adapt the car with the time and every six months if we want to. We can send a flash to our customers and they’ll have a brand-new instrument panel.”
Fuel efficiency is the other pivotal theme from the 2012 show, with many major car companies offering up hybrids like Volkwagen’s new Jetta hybrid and the Ford Fusion.