SAN FRANCISCO -- When car chiefs take the stage at the massive Motor City shindig on Monday, the requisite cheerleading and calls for an industry revival will no longer come off as desperate puffery.
That's because, with the North American International Auto Show just days away, 2011 already feels different. The economy is showing signs of life, consumers are coming back to showrooms, and auto makers finally have the wind at their back -- along with profits in their pockets.
"For the past couple of years, these shows felt like visiting a nursing home. Just stay quiet and keep the lights down," TrueCar.com analyst Jesse Toprak said. "This year, though, promises to be one of the most upbeat and jam-packed shows in a long time."
General Motors Co. is once again a publicly traded company, maybe even a thriving one. Chrysler Group LLC, with the helping hand of Italy's Fiat, ain't dead yet. Ford Motor Co. keeps plugging away as the one to beat.
Then there's Toyota Motor Corp., which is still wading through some unsettled waters while its Japanese peers Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. have managed to hold it together throughout the upheaval.
They'll all join their established global rivals as well as the up-and-comers under the glaring lights of Cobo Center in downtown Detroit to strut their wares and offer a glimpse of what the future holds.
"The industry is on a great path, and everybody is making money," NAIAS Chairman Barron Meade said. "Now we are going to see some really impactful products. These are the best, greenest and safest cars we've ever had."
Media attendance is expected to grow to 5,000 reporters, up from about 4,500 a year ago.
That according to Meade, primarily due to the presence of international media. They'll have their hands full with the new schedule.
Instead of the usual spread of notable news conferences over two or three days, the doors open at 5:30 a.m. Eastern on Monday with Porsche, back for the first time in four years, hosting a breakfast.
The schedule doesn't ease for 14 hours straight _ enough time to allow just about every major manufacturer their half-hour in the spotlight.
The next day is billed as a showcase of "highly anticipated, innovative technological advancements," otherwise known as a chance for journalists to catch their flights a day early without missing any of the must-sees.
Volvo, now owned by China's Geely, is Tuesday's primary attraction.
But the condensed time frame doesn't mean there won't be as much to see. Meade said he expects at least 40 worldwide debuts, up from 27 last year, by the time the show winds down.
Some of the highlights will include Toyota's next offering in its popular Prius line, which is expected to be a hatchback wagon-type vehicle with 50 percent more space in the back.
Porsche promises to make a splash in its return, with speculation calling for some kind of super car based on the 918 Spyder concept that debuted in Geneva last year.
Fellow German maker BMW will likely deliver some of the snazzier offerings at the show, with its updated 1-Series coupe and the 2012 BMW 650i convertible. Mercedes-Benz, not to be outdone, will raise the curtain on its 2012 C-Class.
As for the domestics, Ford _ fresh off its doing its part to raise the industry's profile at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas _ will mark its return to the U.S. minivan market with its 2012 C-Max.
Chevy will show off its 2012 Sonic subcompact, the replacement for the Aveo, while Chrysler unveils its new Chrysler 300 sedan.
There are still some notable absentees from this year's lineup, including Nissan, Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce and Fisker Automotive.
But the show will go on. It's been through worse.