Joe Biden said he was “like a kid in a candy store” at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. The jolly Vice President of the United States bounded through the exhibits of U.S. automakers at the annual event, trying out different sports cars and sitting behind the wheel of brawny pickup trucks from the area’s iconic manufacturers.
Yet it was more than a romp for Biden. The vice president came to take a victory lap with automakers at the close of a controversial U.S. government policy of the recession era: the auto industry bailout. As Biden checked out vehicles from Detroit companies formerly known as the Big Three, he basked in the success of the move that saved millions of jobs, over $300 billion in personal income, and the wellbeing of an entire region at the final cost of $10 billion.
“We bet on American ingenuity; we bet on you and we won,” Biden told the Detroit Auto Show crowd. “American cars and trucks are once again changing the game…The truth is we’re not only back, we’re back stronger.” Here are nine Detroit automobiles that back up the claim the U.S. auto industry bailout was a success.
1. 2014 Corvette Stingray
Of all the signature Detroit rides, the GM Corvette Stingray is one of the few referred to as a supercar without reservation. In fact, the 2014 C7 ‘Vette is definitive proof that the General Motors Corporation has gotten its design and performance mojo back in spades. It won North American Car of the Year honors at the Detroit Auto Show along with the Chevy Silverado. These accolades for Chevy are only a few of the feathers in GM’s cap.
2. 2015 Ford F-150
When Biden referred to “American ingenuity,” he may have had the 2015 Ford F-150 in mind. Instead of getting complacent with the best-selling vehicle in the United States for more than thirty years running, Ford brought aluminum into the pickup’s body to knock 700 pounds off the total weight. That means a fierce pickup truck with an eye on the future’s stricter fuel efficiency standards. It could change the U.S. truck market forever.
3. 2015 Chrysler 200
The Chrysler (FIATY.PK) 200 is a terrific symbol of the comeback of an automaker that joined GM in receiving auto bailout funds. With industry powerhouses such as the Toyota Camry pacing all cars sold in the United States, Chrysler produced a competitive mid-size sedan worthy of the competition. In fact, it’s up there with the Ford Fusion, what some consider the best-looking model in the segment.
4. 2014 Cadillac CTS Sedan
Like the Corvette Stingray, a corporate cousin, the 2014 Cadillac CTS Sedan is looking for extra space on the mantle to accommodate the awards it’s packing away. The new CTS won Motor Trend’s coveted Car of the Year honors while being universally praised by critics and consumers alike. Cadillac is now the fastest growing luxury brand in the auto industry, and the new CTS is another reason it seems poised for more growth.
5. 2015 Ford Mustang
Perhaps no vehicle represents the Detroit auto industry coming full circle more than the 2015 Ford Mustang. Celebrating 50 years since the pony car’s debut at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, the newest incarnation of the muscle icon reflects an old-school vision through a global lens. Ford’s approach to manufacturing has delivered the automaker the world’s best-selling vehicle in the Ford Focus.
Though Ford never received a bailout (it received a $5.9 billion loan), the automaker undoubtedly thrived on the competition of Detroit rivals and the ongoing presence of suppliers and factory workers in the region. It’s now a true global force in the industry.
6. 2014 Ram 1500
Ram, the truck maker that spun off from Dodge within Fiat’s Chrysler Group, showed the most growth of any pickup maker in 2013. The automaker got off to another great start with the turn of the calendar page when the 2014 Ram 1500 won Autobytel’s Pickup Truck of the Year honors. Ram’s success with its pickup line signals the automaker’s return to health more than any other factor.
7. 2014 Chevy Impala
For many years, the idea of a U.S. automaker besting Japanese brands on Consumer Reports tests was unthinkable. That conception changed when the 2014 Chevy Impala emerged and picked off all foreign (and domestic) competitors in landing the highest score ever in the sedan category. Bread-and-butter cars of this nature are essential to the revival of Detroit’s auto industry.
Another symbol of strength among U.S. automakers is putting big numbers on the global stage. At the end of 2012, Ford claimed the prize of best-selling car on earth with its Focus compact, which outran the Toyota Corolla for a historic victory. The Ford Focus held the crown in 2013, giving Detroit a major achievement in an industry that’s shifting its focus toward emerging markets. Since the Focus is the best-selling car in China, Ford is not sweating a thing.
No one can be certain what would have happened to the Chrysler Group’s Street and Racing Technology (or SRT) Group had the company gone under for good. Fortunately, that day never came and specimen like the Stryker Green 2014 SRT Viper continue to grace auto shows in Detroit and beyond. Clearly, the construction of 8.4-liter V10 supercars reflects a company’s confidence in continued good health. Here here, Detroit.