What a difference a few years make. The last time I went to the Detroit motor show, the winds of global recession were blowing hard and in this industry nowhere harder than in Motor City itself.
I remember going to a Chrysler press conference and desperate executives simply not answering some of the more probing questions about the company’s future. It was, I concluded, a place I could live without seeing for a while.
Today, while the city itself still suffers, the show itself has recovered much of the character that used to get us here willingly year after year.
We’re not yet back to the razzmatazz of its heyday,when cars would be revealed not by having a cover removed but by being driven through a wall, or dropped from the ceiling, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the vibe, the confidence and the cars themselves. And they’re all back.
This was a happy, optimistic show, US-centric as it should rightly be, but also illustrative of how globalised the business has become.
I heard one executive talk about Americans building an American truck for the American people, a comment which would have merited no further thought were it not uttered by Andy Palmer, the British executive vice-president of Nissan.