DETROIT (TheStreet) -- Automakers were rolling out new models and new messages, each one more striking than the last, at the Detroit Auto Show Monday.
About 5,000 journalists from around the world were in attendance, filling every downtown Detroit hotel and strolling between exhibits at a jam-packed Cobo Center. Volkswagen introduced the new Passat (above) and said it wants to grow quickly in the U.S. Chrysler said it is coming back and unveiled the Chrysler 300. Buick showed its new mid-sized Verano, while GM ( GM) was holding its Chevrolet announcements for Monday night.
>>Auto Shares Like Auto Shows And Ford ( F) eschewed simply rolling out new models to show a family of new green cars. Here are the Monday morning highlights. Volkswagen unveiled the 2011 Passat, saying it wants to win in the U.S. market, where it hopes to sell 800,000 cars by 2018. Volkswagen is "writing a new chapter in our American story," said Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW America, at the auto show. "We are aiming to become a big player in the U.S. market." The mid-sized Passat will be built at VW's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant and will start at $20,000. It will be "built in the U.S. with German values," Browning said. It will "meet the demands of the middle class." He noted that the car will also create 2,000 new jobs at VW as well as 12,000 new jobs at suppliers.
Chrysler rolled out the Chrysler 300, as Chrysler brand CEO Oliver Francois proclaimed "You will see what happens when we are backed into a corner. You will see the Chrysler 300 and you will know that we came out swinging." He said Chrysler has invested more than $1 billion in the car, and that some models will offer an eight-speed transmission with a V-8 engine and fuel efficiency at 30 miles per gallon. The 300 represents an effort to combine Chrysler's legacy with luxury, said its designer, Ralph Gilles. "This company has been through a lot," he said.
Buick wants to continue the progress that made it the fastest-growing luxury brand in 2010, when sales climbed 52%, making it fourth among luxury brands. The Verano is "Buick's first ever compact luxury sedan," said Jim Schwegman, U.S. marketing VP. He said the car brings "compact fuel economy in a standard full-sized sedan." It starts at about $30,000. Jim Federico, chief engineer for Verano, noted "this will be the quietest compact sedan on the market." Buick developed 50 new "quiet enablers," he said, including tougher assembly sealing standards, stiff body structure, thick, acoustic glass and triple door seals.
Ford took advantage of its position as the rising star of the U.S. auto industry, and perhaps of the global auto industry, by sending a unique message about fuel efficiency. >>Ford to Hire 7,000 Workers in U.S. At its morning presentation, the company showed 10 compact products, including various versions of the C-Max as well as the new Focus. Chairman Bill Ford noted that the 107 year-old company "once again is doing the same thing my great-grandfather did with the Model T, offering a range of electrified vehicles. "We have the flexibility to build up what works best for every region in the world and to ramp up quickly," Ford said. --Written by Ted Reed in Detroit. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.