Fresh off the plane on Sunday afternoon, I went for a quick wander in the streets around our hotel in downtown Detroit.
Although this city centre will never go back to what it once was, small patches of it seem to be blossoming again, like this strip of eateries in ‘Greektown’.
It is only a small area, and it is still surrounded by tracts of empty space once filled by buildings, but it shows how the Detroit is shifting through a huge cycle, where collapse is being followed by small districts re-growing into something viable. Take a bigger view – like the picture below from my 21st-floor room – though and you’ll see just how vast the space is around what’s left of the the city centre.
You’ll never be short of a parking space in downtown Detroit. The US car industry seems to have now completed its own re-sizing exercise, though over a rather shorter timescale.
Last year, three years after the credit crunch pushed Chrysler and GM into meltdown, the overall new vehicle market was up around 10 percent. In 2012, it’s predicted to rise another 9 percent or so, with around 13.8m new cars and pick-ups leaving the showrooms.
For industry watchers, Chrysler is the brand under the spotlight. Sales jumped a huge 26 percent in 2011 and the company paid back the final £5.1bn of loans its received from the Obama government. Even better news for Chrysler is that its new Alfa Giulietta-related Dodge Dart saloon is being unveiled at this show, a machine that should help accelerate Chrysler into greater profitability.