There was an optimistic feel to the media preview days at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) last week in Detroit, Michigan, as automakers from around the globe rolled out their new and improved models for the upcoming year.
Everywhere you went across Cobo Hall’s vast showroom floor, automakers were talking about how 2012 signifies a resurgence for the auto industry following a tremendously trying past couple of years. The plummeting economies of the U.S. and Europe combined with the devastating tsunami in Japan to deal a near-deadly knockout punch for nearly all automakers.
But the new year brings new hope and optimism across the auto industry, with many companies announcing the opening of new plants, or expanded production at facilities that had previously experienced major cutbacks in manufacturing-related jobs. And along with this positive economic outlook is a renewed focus on environmentally friendly models that put a greater emphasis on alternative fuels or high-mileage, gas-electric hybrids.
This is evidenced by a recent report by J.D. Power and Associates that states 23 new hybrid or electric models are anticipated to hit dealerships in 2012. And there’s at least one new company that is putting pedal to the metal to produce consumer-friendly “electrified” trucks and sport utility vehicles for heavy duty users. Via, a start-up company that includes former General Motors Chairman Bob Lutz on its board, launched three extended-range vehicles at NAIAS — a utility van, a pickup truck and a sport utility vehicle — that can run up to 40 miles in all-electric mode and a gas-electric range of up to 500 miles.
There’s no doubt that today’s automakers are optimistic about the growth possibilities for the next 12 months. And as long as they keep seeing green, everyone will benefit.
Here’s a quick look at some of the activities at this year’s North American International Auto Show.