Today, I went back to Detroit for the 2013 North American International Auto Show. It was perhaps my 11th or 12th visit to the Motor City since becoming Secretary of Transportation, and --let me tell you-- what a difference four years makes.
Four years ago when President Obama took office, America was in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. As most of you know, this recession hit our auto industry hard. In the year before the president’s inauguration, the industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. Two great American auto companies stood on the brink. In Detroit, a dreary cloud hung over the 2009 auto show, and journalists were writing obituaries for the entire industry.
President Obama had two choices. He could do nothing, or he could take action.
Well, he did the right thing, and he took action. He refused to turn his back, and he made a commitment to stand by the American auto industry, to stand by the American parts manufacturers who support it, and to stand by the American workers who make it great.
At the 2013 auto show, I'm happy to say, all signs point to that commitment having paid tremendous dividends. This morning I saw a new energy and confidence, and it is clear to me that the U.S. auto industry is back.
Now that didn't happen just because President Obama gave Detroit an infusion of taxpayer dollars. It happened also because leaders and innovative new thinkers within the auto industry vowed to remake their companies and the way they do business. It happened because the United Auto Workers union supported the industry's recovery. And it happened because thousands of men and women rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
Because of these bold actions from the federal government and the private sector, today's American auto industry is more fuel-efficient than ever before and selling more cars than anyone predicted possible. We're looking at companies that have--through great design and innovative engineering--completely reworked their vehicles inside and out. We're looking at American automakers taking home Car of the Year and Truck of the Year awards for making the kinds of cars that people want.
A lot of work has been done in the past four years, and anyone who visits the auto show will see the results of it today.
As we look at the groundbreaking ideas showcased at the 2013 North America International Auto Show, we should remember that these cars represent more than ingenuity. These cars represent hard work and perseverance—and a good, old-fashioned American refusal to give up.
Today we see what’s possible here in Detroit, and all across America.