DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- At the Detroit Auto Show, which opened Monday, the auto industry is showing the new cars that it hopes will help to pull it out of an automotive depression.

Clearly, the outlook is brighter than it was a year ago, when the show was a bare-bones affair that led off what turned out to be the worst year for U.S. vehicle sales since 1982. Now, General Motors and Chrysler have emerged from bankruptcy as far stronger companies than they were a year ago, when they were awaiting bankruptcy. And Ford ( F) has benefitted dramatically from avoiding bankruptcy.

Fuel efficiency is the byword here, and Cobo Center is filled with all manner of gasoline-saving hybrids, electric cars and battery-powered vehicles.

On Monday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was in attendance, fittingly, since the federal government is the primary owner of GM and Chrysler. She called the show "historic" and said: "If we're going to be a strong economy, we have to stop the erosion of the base."

Here are some of the cars drawing attention:

The Chevrolet Cruze will get 40 miles per gallon. GM says it has more interior space than the Honda Civic. Already on sale in Asia and Europe, it will be also be built in Ohio.

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