Detroit's Big Show - Hot Cars and Optimism Are Back

Incoming General Motors CEO Mary Barra introduces the 2015 GMC Canyon during the media previews for the North American International Auto Show, Jan. 12, 2014, in Detroit. Paul Sancya/AP Photo

America's carmakers are firing on all cylinders with today's opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. "You feel the optimism. You feel the confidence. People are smiling. The industry is coming back," says show spokesman Joe Rohatynski.

Scores of new muscle cars and high performance autos will be the highlight at this show. "I think what's most new about this year's Detroit Auto Show is a real sense of excitement and optimism," says Karl Brauer Senior Auto Analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

The revival of the car industry means more employment for U.S. workers. Volkswagen has highly ambitious plans to become a major player in the American market. The German auto firm says it's making a five year $7 billion investment in North America, building new autos and a seven passenger SUV. But Volkswagen, which has a reputation for mediocre quality from consumer surveys, faces a huge challenge. Its market share is less than 3 percent, while the top three companies - GM, Ford and Toyota - make nearly 50 percent of all new cars and trucks sold in the U.S.

Among the highlights of this week's big Detroit show: A brand new Chevy Corvette will be introduced. Ford is rolling out an F-150 pickup truck made of aluminum instead of steel and a redesigned 2015 Honda Fit subcompact car will be launched. A new version of Chrysler's 200 car may be unveiled this week.

Fuel efficiency is still a theme for many new autos, featuring "smaller engines but with turbo charging power that makes them feel very performance-oriented and still allows them to get very good fuel efficiency," says Brauer.

After Target, another card breach at a major retailer. Neiman Marcus says thieves stole some of its customers' payment card information and made unauthorized charges over the holiday season. The company says it's working with the Secret Service. There is no clear estimate yet of how many customers may be affected.

Beam, the maker of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark alcohol brands, has agreed to be acquired by Japan's Suntory Holdings Ltd. for approximately $13.62 billion. Suntory will pay $83.50 per share, a 25 percent premium to Beam's Friday closing price. The companies put the deal's value at about $16 billion, including debt. Suntory's brands include Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies as well as Midori liqueur. Both companies' boards unanimously approved the transaction, which is targeted to close in the second quarter.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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