Detroit back in the driver's seat at auto show

This year’s North American International Auto Show is underway this week in Detroit. And there’s little doubt that hometown favourites Ford, GM and Chrysler, the latter two just four years out of bankruptcy protection, are firmly back in the driver’s seat.

The annual industry bash on the banks of the Detroit River kicked off Sunday night when GM unveiled its 2014 Chevrolet Corvette “Stingray”—an all-American car if there ever was one. GM North America president Mark Reuss told reporters that while the revival of the “Stingray” moniker is a nod to the Corvette’s muscle-car history, the new version is intended to be a high-performance vehicle on par with anything built by its rivals. “I will eagerly put this car up against any of the top performance cars in the world,” he said. “In terms of design, technology and performance this car is second to none.”

On Monday, GM took home a North American Car of the Year award for the Cadillac ATS. Chrysler, meanwhile, won the North American Truck/Utility of the Year award for its Ram 1500 pick-up, suggesting there’s still a lot of mileage left in big burly vehicles in an age of small, fuel-efficient cars and hybrids (there are also rumours that Ford will unveil a concept version of its best-selling F-150 pick up truck). That’s in stark contrast to previous years when vehicle-of-the-year winners included electric vehicles like they Chevy Volt and Nissan’s Leaf, or small cars made by Korea’s Hyundai.

Though there are still dozens more vehicle announcements scheduled, the show’s first few hours suggests that the Motor City is back doing what it does best. And that’s no small feat given that obituaries of the former U.S. “Big Three” automakers were being written just a few years ago.