Celebratory mood at the Auto Show

Posted at 8:46 AM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 08:46:52-05

The Auto Show wasn't always a happy place.

"I was here a few years ago during a very dark time when we weren't sure that some of these companies would survive; and certainly, we've come a long way since then," Senator Gary Peters explained.

The auto industry had a few years on thin ice, but the Federal Government helped turn that around.

Senator Debbie Stabenow explained, "It really was the hard work and sacrifice of the workers, businesses, the innovators that did it, but if it hadn't been for our federal government standing there in support, we wouldn't see this today."

It's a much different mood today, coming off the best sales year the industry's ever had.

"We have turned around, we're back," Senator Stabenow said.

And, both Senators agreed Michigan is leading the way, especially when it comes to automobile technology.

For example, take a look at the new Chevy Bolt EV. It's all electric and can drive up to 200 miles on one charge.

"That is a massive game changer. And to do so in an affordable way, no one else in the industry is even close," Chevrolet's Annalisa Bluhm told us.

Plus, its got either Apple Car Play or Android Audio, so you can still communicate in a safer way.

"Having the opportunity to come into the car, it already knows who I am, I don't need to learn another thing. It knows my contacts, it knows my music, it automatically syncs when I get into the vehicle. That level of personalization makes my life easier," Bluhm said.

And, it's exactly the sort of technology Senator Peters wants to see.

He explained, "It's estimated with these new technologies that are coming on board in the next few years, we could eliminate up to 80% of all car crashes. And, that's a big deal when you think about 30,000 people dying on our highways every year. If we can eliminate 80% of those, saving tens of thousands of lives."

Another reason to boast the auto industry in Michigan.

The Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday. President Obama will be there on January 20th.