On Monday, after touring the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, I wrote that, "The Motor City is back in business." And as the North American International Auto Show winds down, it's clear that I'm not the only one who liked what he saw this week.
Automakers responded to the Obama Administration’s proposed fuel economy standards by unveiling a number of cars that are easier on the environment and their owners’ wallets.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu praised this development. “We are on the cusp of big breakthroughs in vehicle technologies," he said. "The question is, ‘Which countries will make them?’ Asia and Europe are moving aggressively to seize technological leadership. So must we.”
I’m also pleased to report that for the first time, the NAIAS devoted floor space to addressing the needs of people with disabilities. The Mobility Center showcased adaptive vehicles and accessories that can make riding in a car easier for the 54 million Americans with disabilities. I hope you'll agree that this is a terrific development.
Of course, what we're most excited about at the Department of Transportation is the increased emphasis on safety. As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, "Advanced safety technologies like lane-departure warning, crash-imminent braking and others have enormous potential to save lives and prevent injuries. It's encouraging to see so many manufacturers increasingly offering these safety features as standard equipment on their vehicles."
The talk of progress this week was not limited to the technology on display; many observers noted that the automakers exhibited a confidence noticeably lacking in the last two years. Automakers are building the cars Americans want, and experts agree that America's “Big Three” are in position to sustain the resurgence they’ve worked so hard to create.
Observers also noticed a thing or two about the host. “The Motor City is a place where this country builds cars, and there is a lot of pride in building cars in this city and this country,” said Olivier Francois, the man behind Chrysler’s bold, “Imported from Detroit,” ads.
This isn’t just about the success of three companies. It’s about the success of a very important place in America, and all the different people who make that possible.
Olivier Francois said this week that, “Detroit stands for something bigger than just a city.”
I absolutely agree. What we've seen in Michigan is also about partners working together to pick an industry up and get it back on track. As Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said, "The government doesn't do this alone, and the private sector doesn't. It's that collaboration between the public and private sectors that make this the best place to be in the world."
And whether it's Michigan or any state, across America--public and private; Republican, Democrat, and Independent--we can continue to invest together, to put our friends and neighbors back to work and build the foundation for stronger economic competitiveness.
The Motor City is, indeed, back in business. And that's a good sign for all of us. Let's keep it going.