After a record year of motoring sales in the United States -- more than 17 million cars and light trucks flew off the forecourts in 2015 -- the big brands were revving to go.
NAIAS is throwing the spotlight on the luxury sector, with big names like Volvo, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Lexus and the newly created Genesis division of Hyundai as the main attractions.
A flurry of flagship vehicles were unveiled. Brands are banking on growing demand in markets such as China, for example, where the economic engine is still running strong despite a rocky patch for the stock market.
Volkswagen was putting a brave face on its problems with U.S. environmental officials (and consumers) over its "diesel dupe" scandal of last year -- many of its vehicles had been fitted with a device that secretly detected when their emissions were being read, to give a lower reading.
During a news conference in Detroit, Volkswagen officials addressed the issue head on, detailing steps they have taken to restore consumer confidence in the brand, such as issuing up to $500 in gift cards per owner of the affected vehicles.
The next day, however, the brand was scalded by the California Air Resources Board for failing to do enough to fix the problem in a timely fashion.
Tech was also a big focus, and it was notable that Detroit -- traditionally, the first big event of the automotive calendar -- is sharing some of the limelight now with the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, which earlier this month debuted the all-electric Chevy Bolt, and provided a platform for other automakers unveiling autonomous driving cars.
In Detroit, better connectivity was the focus. Toyota announced a partnership with communications technology firm Kymeta Corporation to develop the technology to deliver multiple streams of HD video and data to a moving car, even in signal black spots.
And while they don't make cars, tech giants IBM and Wind River Technology gave presentations on the growing role of software and data security systems in the auto design and engineering processes. Vehicles, they stressed, are becoming appliances that also move people around in various degrees of comfort.