Germans kick off North America show with continental flair

If auto show eve is any indication, the German automakers have taken over the North American International Auto Show.

Mercedes-Benz kicked off its 125th anniversary by papering the side of a downtown Detroit hotel with a 20-story billboard of the SLS roadster, hosting a media reception for a few hundred journalists starring singer Colbie Caillet, and introducing a facelift of the C-class sedan and wagon. Mercedes even fired up a version of its very first vehicle from 1886, driving it off the stage at a restored downtown hotel in dramatic fashion. Down the street, Volkswagen Group turned a Detroit firehouse into a party, complete with board members from Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley and the VW brand, handout images of the new Passat sedan and the appearance of another band -- pop group Train.

It was once thought that the Los Angeles show was the place for Europeans in North America and that Detroit would be minimized in the years ahead.

No chance.

Hours before Porsche will kick off press conferences at 6:30 am on Monday in Detroit, there's little doubt that this is America's most important show. At least in Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt.