As the Detroit Auto Show gears up this week, there is renewed optimism about the future of the U.S. auto industry.
Ford Motor Co., which made a big splash at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, is expected to roll out its C-Car platform ("C" for compact) during the auto show. Also known as Ford's World Car, the new Ford Fusion will be based on a single platform and will be marketed to the global auto market, not just U.S. drivers.
That's a fundamental change in the way a U.S. auto maker operates, and, if successful, would allow Ford to compete against Toyota in growing auto markets around the world.
There are other signs of a recovery in Detroit. One is the reemergence of a business incubator operated by Wayne State University called TechTown. The business incubator is focusing on generating job growth in a state devastated by unemployment by nurturing small technology startups.
One startup backed by TechTown, Ellison Corp., is developing a traffic signaling system based on patented technology. The founder is a former Ford assembly worker.
Together, these and other efforts big and small are pulling the U.S. auto industry out of its worst recession. What emerges will likely be a far more agile auto sector that reaches out to the global market rather than the other way around.