And now the world knows it, proclaimed local Detroit talk show host Paul W. Smith, as he addressed a gathering of industry insiders and dealers who had gathered in the back of Detroit’s Cobo Hall to celebrate the debut of the 2013 North American International Auto Show earlier this week.
Only a few years earlier, in the same room, many of the same people had come together to nurse their wounds with whiskey and cigars and ignore the desperate mood on a show floor where it wasn’t clear which carmakers might survive the U.S. automotive market’s worse downturn since the Great Depression.
But this year, momentum is clearly in the industry’s favor. Sales surged to 14.5 million in 2012, ending with a burst of showroom activity few had expected. And while a small minority of manufacturers, notably Toyota, predict 2013 will be relatively flat, most experts are rapidly ratcheting their numbers upward, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson this week predicting demand could reach 15.5 million. That would be the best tally since the industry hit its last peak.
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Official Best Of Detroit Auto Show photo gallery
**The 2013 Detroit Auto Show Gallery and coverage is sponsored by Lexus