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Dodge Dart returns at Detroit Auto Show, 36 years after ceasing production

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The year-end numbers, released last week, are buoying this year’s NAIA, the largest in North America. It opens to the public Saturday and runs through Jan. 22 at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

“The mood of the show is a lot better than it has been in the past. There’s a pretty strong sense of optimism,” says Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst for

Foreign manufacturers’ market share shrank last year, primarily due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March and the flooding in Thailand in November, resulting in production shutdowns for Toyota, Honda, Subaru, and other automakers. Since then, the domestic three in Detroit have unveiled vehicles they promise to market heavily this year with hopes to maintain their market strength.

How is this happening? Through an emphasis on having strong models in the compact and midsize segments, as much as the luxury, large trucks, and SUV segments that have sustained the industry for years.

“Today the automakers are intent on having big complete model portfolios, more than they had in the past. So if gas prices go to $4 a gallon, they are ready with cars that fit that need, and if gas prices go to $1 a gallon, you can still compete and not have to worry so much on external factors,” says Ms. Caldwell.

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