Last week during media days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we saw enough new models to last us until at least the Geneva show, which is in two months.
It was an overwhelming display of new and refreshed sheet metal that will have customers waiting for the opportunity to plunk down their money and drive away with new cars or trucks.
Whether cars, trucks or crossovers, diesel or even electric, there were plenty of choices that will show up soon in dealership showrooms across the nation.
Competition has never been tougher. Every manufacturer seems to be replacing its vehicles to stay in the game.
Quality, marketing and pricing are important elements of any model launch. But during media days, all we heard about was the sheet metal, again showing that the product is king.
Today high quality is a given. If you don't have quality, then don't even try to get in the game.
Engineering must be as good as the best if you want to stay in the game, and marketing and pricing have to be right on -- not too low and not too high.
But those pale by comparison to the design and look of the product and the interior, which have never been more important.
If new entries expect to come into the marketplace on anything besides price, they must be equal to or better than existing entries in every category. That's not easy for the established brands, much less the new boys on the block.
We see a lot of politically correct products: more electric vehicles than the grid can support and plenty of high-mileage vehicles trying to reach lofty fuel and emission targets from the U.S. and European governments.
Product has always been important, though recently a lot of less than sterling examples have somehow survived and even prospered. That's not going to happen anymore.
Today's consumer is the best informed ever. And that customer demands the best in every aspect.
It's an exciting time for consumers. They have never had more choices, and they have never had better choices.
As we come out of this recession, we're going to have plenty of exciting products to keep the momentum going.