The first two weeks in January are exciting and exhausting at the same time.
Thousands of people descend from our various holiday haunts to Detroit for the press conferences and social events that the world's automakers throw at us at the North American International Auto Show.
In addition to wining and dining us, they feed us enticing new concepts and production models. I don't think I've ever seen as many introductions at any other show anywhere as Detroit had this year.
By the end of a week of press days, most of us are completely tuckered out. But for those of us at Automotive News, we had just a day of rest and then it all started again with the annual Automotive News World Congress.
Last week was simply exciting. The congress kicked off with DaimlerChrysler AG chairmen Juergen Schrempp and Robert Eaton and ended two nights later with Ford Motor Co. President Jac Nasser and the legendary Mercedes-Benz design chief Bruno Sacco.
In the middle, GM's new North American president, Ron Zarrella, laid out GM's exciting plans, and Nissan North America Inc. President Minoru Nakamura gave us big hopes for Nissan.
Congress attendees heard so many good presentations that I can't even list them all here. In this changing automotive world, the presentations were tailored for the times and the place. And all of this took place while we in Detroit were surrounded by snow and more snow. It didn't make it easier.
Nearly all our speakers made important news, and you can read about their presentations in this week's issue. It's good reading and good stuff.
Maybe there was something in the water, but after doing the Automotive News World Congress for more than two decades, I still felt tremendous new excitement this year.
Maybe it was because every day, somebody new was mentioned as merging with someone else. Or maybe somebody was buying or being bought. The attendees represented every corner of the world, and they all shared an intense curiosity and interest.
It's a global business that still sells cars and trucks one at a time. It's a business of people, and regardless of all the computers and the Internet, most folks think that's not going to change anytime soon. The auto industry always will embrace new technology, and there's going to be plenty in this next century.
And, no, no one is concerned particularly that computers are going to shut down at the start of 2000.