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Auto Execs on Road Ahead: Times Are Better

As the Detroit Auto Show kicks off, automobile executives shared their perspectives on the economy, vehicle demand and the industry's future.

Ford Unveils 'Focus'

“Here’s a car with 10,000 parts and 80 percent of those parts are going to be exactly the same. And the last piece: tailored to the unique customer requirements. So you can imagine what that does to quality, fuel efficiency and cost reduction.”

-Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford

On What He'd say to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Congressional leaders visiting the auto show:

“You made a great investment. The company’s back. We’re going to do great. America is going to be proud of us.”

-Ed Whitacre, chairman & CEO of General Motors

On Paying Back Government Loans:

"We are a little bit ahead of schedule. We hope to pay it all back by June (2010)."

-Ed Whitacre, chairman & CEO of General Motors

Projecting Demand

“I think we’ve all gotten the impression that economically we’ve bottomed out and that in 2010 we’re going to see an overall market demand of somewhere between 11-12 billion units… [It’s] definitely an improving trend, but nobody is quite sure of that.”

- Bob Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors

Auto Show: '10 vs. '09

“I think last year was a wake... This year you’re just walking around and you see it looks a bit better. The Americans are buying. Times are better. Last year it was just the German manufacturers.”

-Jim O’Donnell, North American president at BMW

Inside Hyundai's 2009

“We had a great year in ’09. The industry was up about 20 percent; we were up about 8 percent and we took our market share up 40 percentage points… And the interesting thing about ’09 was we didn’t have a lot of new product in our volume segment."

- John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai USA

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