DETROIT -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. government's wager on the nation's automotive industry has paid off.
"We bet on American ingenuity, we bet on you and we won," he said today during a speech at the Detroit auto show.
Biden's visit to the show follows the U.S. Treasury's sale last month of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. The exit ended the so-called "Government Motors" era that followed the U.S. government's $50 billion bailout and reorganization of the company. The vehicles on display at the show reflect the sacrifices made during the industry's restructuring during the recession, Biden said.
On a tour of the show floor, he sat in a Corvette sports car, a Ford F-150 pickup and a Chrysler 200 family car.
The auto show today is a different place than five years ago when the Detroit 3 struggled for survival. GM and Chrysler, after being propped up by aid given under then-President George W. Bush, would ultimately undergo a bankruptcy reorganization after Barack Obama took office. Ford Motor Co., which avoided bankruptcy, had its own painful restructuring.
"What a difference five years makes," Biden told several hundred people at the auto show. "Everything from the mood here at this auto show in 2009 to what you faced back then -- literally the likely collapse of the automobile industry."
After his speech, Biden toured the show floor, stopping to meet with new GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Chrysler Group LLC and majority owner Fiat SpA.
The vice president sat in a redesigned Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan and joked with the swarming crowd to back away because he was going to drive it off.
At the Ford display, he smiled widely at the new Mustang sports car and hopped inside an F-150.