Well, the economies of the world may not be back to full health, but this week's Geneva motor show 2012 seemed to demonstrate that, from the point of view of being free again to create new models of every type, the motor industry certainly is. This, at last, was a show where it was possible to show big cars, expensive cars, fast cars, luxurious cars - as well as the green crop of hybrids and battery cars that has characterised all-important motor shows for the past five years.
What united them all was an efficiency story: even the traffic-stopping, two-tonne Bentley EXP 9 F SUV concept with its proposed 180mph top speed and 500-plus horsepower, had a lightness story and an engine efficiency angle in its make-up. And to go with it from the VW stable came stuff like an old-time full-size supercar concept from (VW-owned) ItalDesign called the ItalDesign Brivido, which reprised the '80s Lamborghini Espada, and even Infiniti had a supercar - the best-looking Infiniti ever, in my book - the awkwardly-named Infiniti Emerg-e which had a Lotus Evora chassis plus a lot of progressive Lotus hybrid bits.
At the outset of the show, the Opel-Vauxhall Ampera became Car of the Year in Europe, a piece of news that buoyed the hard-pressed company behind it, though the news puzzled some commentators who had just heard how US production of the revolutionary range extender had just been suspended. (This, said the Europeans, was simply because the price of petrol in America remains too cheap). The GM victory meant VW's smallest car, the Up missed out on the reward it probably deserved, but that didn't stop the handsome little car - shown in yet more iterations - from being the talk of the show, and establishing itself at the top of an emerging (and fast-selling) class it joined just a few months ago.
Renault unveiled the neat-looking Clio-sized Renault Zoe, another of the battery-powered cars in which it is putting so much faith, revealing that it was targeting private buyers' second cars for such vehicles and that without them the EV project could not be a success. Carlos Ghosn stuck to his oft-challenged assertion that 20 per cent of his group's cars were likely to be electric by 2020 - citing new research that 60 per cent of 18 to 30 years-olds want to buy green cars. Yet reflecting Geneva's new spirit of giving freedom to all kinds of cars, he also made it clear that although Renault was currently "losing its shirt" on big cars, it would come again in the executive car category, using its old alliance with Nissan to assist on one side, and its new alliance with Daimler on the other.
Tata, a quiet attendee at Geneva for at least 15 years, kept right on being discreetly revolutionary as has been its way for years. Its important offering was the Megapixel, a slightly bigger, even better-looking development of last year's Pixel concept, both based on the super-cheap Nano, produced in India. Though the concept showed single gull-wing doors on each side, its essential styling was that of the Nano. Tata is using the car as a test bed for a range extender system arguably more advanced than anything else on the show floor.
Weighing only 850 kilograms or so, the car had a 13kW/hour battery under its floor, good for 55 miles or so before needing the assistance of a tiny, single-cylinder engine to generate further power and feed its four 15 horsepower electric motors, one in each wheel. Such a car could be five years away, said Tata technical chief Dr Tim Leverton, pointing out that wheel motors might sound revolutionary for cars, but they are commonplace in scooters and other light vehicles. The official efficiency figures for the car were astounding: a CO2 output of 25g/km and combined fuel consumption of 300mpg.