Toyota drew a 2000-plus crowd at its reveal of three new Prius variants. In fact the Riverside Ballroom venue at Cobo was so rammed that late-comers were shut out.

As a symbol of the iron grip that Toyota has over the US car industry, the huge interest reinforced the point, even though Toyota is still under the cloud of its safety recalls.

Tellingly boss Akio Toyota kicked off the event with a personal appearance and speech, his first public appearance since facing up to Larry King in April in the depths of the recall crisis.

Also tellingly, Mr Toyota didn’t stay to the end of the conference to face the more tiger-ish elements of the US press, who can still smell the blood of the recall story.

Two new Prius models might divert some of the attention in the direction of new product. The first is the V, a high-roof five-seater in the mould of the Renault Megane and slated for production. The second is the C, a concept for a 3.8m-long Fiesta-sized hatch, designed in Europe, and promising 60mpg economy on the US test cycle.