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At Detroit Auto Show, carmakers unveil new high-performance models

January 16, 2014 at 6:35 PM EDT
Car lovers and industry experts have gathered in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. This year's showcase focuses on high-performance cars and redesigned trucks. Hari Sreenivasan reports on what offerings U.S. automakers are putting onstage.
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TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: Five years ago, two of the largest auto manufacturers, GM and Chrysler, were on the brink. The Bush and Obama administrations offered them critical lifelines of cash, tens of billions of dollars, most of which has since been repaid.

In the wake of the crisis, carmakers said they would change the kinds of vehicles they were selling, reducing their size and increasing fuel-efficiency. And, to some extent, that is happening.

But, in Detroit this week, the industry also returned to some of its old high-powered old form.

Hari is back with that story.

MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the big nasty, the 2015 Corvette Z06.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Detroit puts its best new offerings on stage each year at the North American International Auto Show, previewing concept cars that may never be made, alongside those that car-lovers can expect to see in showrooms in the coming years.

Vice President Joe Biden was among the enthusiasts today as Chevrolet rolled out the new Corvette.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Now, you know, that old Corvette, that rear end, it wasn’t what you would call stable, right?

(LAUGHTER)

JOE BIDEN: But they tell me this new one, man, can take the Porsche. I’m counting on it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And automakers seem to be counting on a new yearning for high-performance cars, after focusing more on smaller sedans and electric vehicles in recent years.

RAJ NAIR, Ford Group: There you have it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Trucks are also moving off dealers’ lots. And at the auto show, manufacturers tried to spotlight redesigned models like Ford’s F-150, which are lighter and more fuel-efficient.

RAJ NAIR: Overall, as much as 700 pounds of weight have been saved, helping the F-150 tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker, stop shorter, all with better gas mileage.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Ford and its competitors are racing to meet a surging demand for trucks, fueled partly by contractors buying more as them, as the housing industry picks up.

The new CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, unveiled her company’s new midsize pickup, the GMC Canyon, on Sunday.

MARY BARRA, General Motors: At today’s GM, our products are the result of putting the customer at the center of everything we do.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Overall, the industry racked up strong sales gains in 2013, with more than 15 million vehicles sold. It’s hoping to build on that performance in 2014.