CES may have overshadowed the 2016 Detroit Auto Show in our eyes, but President Barack Obama saw the latter event as an illustration of the car industry’s recent resurgence. The Commander in Chief visited the Chevrolet, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and ZF booths at Detroit’s Cobo Center, and for him, a few vehicles clearly stood out.
Obama spent most of his 30-minute visit admiring the new Chevy Bolt, taking a moment to sit behind the electric vehicle’s three-spoke steering wheel. According to journalists on the scene, the president declared it a “nice-looking car.” He also took time to check out the redesigned 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which may end up replacing Obama’s armored Cadillac as his primary mode of transportation.
“You guys remember, ‘Get Shorty,’ right?” Obama joked to the media. “It’s cool driving a minivan.”
When he wasn’t cruising the show floor or peeking at Corvettes, the head of state commented on the automotive field’s progress over the last eight years. The Obama Administration managed the industry’s bailout package and restructuring following the 2008 financial crisis.
“More than one million Americans would’ve lost their jobs at the worst possible time. Not just auto workers, but the people in communities who depend on you,” Obama said. “The teachers who teach your kids, the small business owners who know your name. Their livelihoods would’ve been at stake as well, so we decided we couldn’t let that happen.”
“In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We said the auto industry would have to truly change, not just pretend it was changing,” he continued. “The industry retooled, it restructured. Management and labor got together to settle your differences. Everybody put some skin in the game, everybody sacrificed for the sake and survival of this industry.”
The President claims the auto industry has added more than 640,000 new jobs since mid-2009.