Innovation is the cornerstone of the automotive industry. From safety improvements like seatbelts and airbags to technological advances like catalytic converters and alternative fuel vehicles, invention and creativity have propelled the world's automakers for more than a century.
So when I visited the Washington Auto Show yesterday, I was very excited to see what is coming next. And the exhibits definitely did not disappoint.
As I said last week, Detroit is back. After a few years of struggle, the Big Three--General Motors, Chrysler and Ford--have been able to re-emerge stronger and more profitable because of restructuring, innovation, and President Obama's decision to invest in American workers and American ingenuity.
These companies are making a profit for the first time since 2004; they’re gaining market share; and Chrysler and GM repaid the U.S. Treasury nearly 100 percent of the money President Obama lent them in 2009.
And it's not just the American companies that have been revitalized. Whether we're talking about the Big Three, BMW, or Toyota--this resurgence means jobs for American workers who have been waiting on the sidelines to get back in the game. In the Detroit area and across the nation, the world's automakers are hiring American workers to help them meet the renewed demand.
The innovation on display at the Washington Auto Show also extended to the exciting new talent emerging into the field. For example, I met with one group of automotive engineering students from Boise State University who are absolutely ready to continue the legacy of their distinguished predecessors in the industry. The truck these students brought to the auto show runs on pure vegetable oil. And it runs fast.
The blueprint for an America built to last that President Obama talked about this week in his State of the Union can only be built on a strong foundation. For the global automotive industry, that foundation must include innovative engineering and skilled workers. It's good to know America has an abundance of both, with the next generation waiting in the wings to do its part.
If you're in the metropolitan Washington area, you can catch the Washington Auto Show through February 5 at the Convention Center in downtown DC. Details can be found here.