During the past few years, we have witnessed quite a few changes in the auto industry. Our economy has been difficult and nothing proved that more than when two of our country’s biggest manufacturers, Chrysler and General Motors, found themselves resorting to taking government loans to stay afloat.

Times are starting to look better (fingers crossed) and with GM and now Chrysler having paid their loans back, is it safe to say the auto industry has turned around?

During a recent visit to a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, President Obama made positive remarks about the auto industry’s “turnaround.”  The New York Times highlights Obama’s visit where he praises Chrysler for its work in helping to turn the industry around, but also acknowledges that “there are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery.”  For the auto industry, are those so called bumps only financial?

So where did the domestic auto industry go wrong over the last decade? Many may agree that the industry simply got too comfortable. Product quality declined and new models offered limited innovation. The good news is that it appears they industry has learned from its mistakes and is not only coming back financially but also getting back to producing quality products we have come to expect from the Big 3.

I recently attended the Ward’s Auto Interiors Show in Dearborn and the one thing I walked away with was that every automaker is focusing on creating the next generation of quality, fuel efficient and affordable vehicles. Not only are they working to make luxury cars feel premium again, they are looking at every possibility of bringing premium to other segments.

The Ford Focus and Chrysler 200 are two examples of new, affordable, fuel efficient vehicles that we never would have seen come to market five years ago. Somewhere along the lines of the economic turmoil, the auto industry learned a valuable lesson that consumers are all benefiting from. They learned to design for the consumer again and stopped designing solely for their pocketbooks.

This is just one small example of a small but significant change that has been made in the industry. What trends are you seeing? Do you agree with Obama that the auto industry has turned around?

— Deana Goodrich is a senior account executive at Airfoil Public Relations, a high-tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.