A record 17.5 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2015, helped by cheap gas and low interest rates.
Now the cars of the future are on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit - the biggest automotive stage on the continent. CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave got an early look ahead of the debut to the public.
About 40 concept and production vehicles from the largest carmakers will be showcased, from Lexus to the return of Lincoln's famed Continental which was unveiled this week.
"We're using the Lincoln Continental to really express what we call quiet luxury," Ford CEO Mark Fields said of the model, which will be the flagship of Ford's luxury brand.
Volvo and Mercedes are pushing safety. Mercedes' E300 sedan can even do much of the driving for you.
Concept cars are fan favorites and part of the reason more than 800,000 people come to the show. But also on display this year are fundamental changes going on in the auto business.
"They're seeing the writing on the wall that as autonomy comes out, as ultimately people are sharing more and more cars, they're going to be interacting and they may not even be purchasing cars - it's going to be a whole different world for them," said Tim Stevens, CNET editor at large.
GM designed its new fully electric Chevy Bolt for that different world. It can travel more than 200 miles on a charge and costs under $30,000.
"Electrification is the basis to now layer on additional capabilities," said Pamela Fletcher, executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at General Motors.
Getting a slice of the $5.3 trillion transportation services pie means smarter cars, including those that can also collect your personal data.
"We're a technology company and more and more, we're becoming an information company," said Fields. "This is not about tracking individual customers - this is about customers electing to share their data with us so that in the aggregate, we can discern patterns there."