DETROIT—The Honda Civic and the Volvo XC 90 were named the North American car and truck of the year, respectively, to kick off the North American International Auto Show today, as Car and Driver contributing editor Tony Swan declared: "There aren't any bad cars anymore."   

More than 40 new vehicles will vie for the attention of more than 5,000 journalists from around the world during official press previews today and Tuesday.

The mood in Detroit is upbeat, following a record 2015 for sales that has created an everybody-wins dynamic among automakers.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the show next week, a trip which would serve to remind how his administration helped rescue the industry from a devastating collapse during the economic crisis in 2009.

"Today, the American auto industry is back," he said in a radio address on Saturday. "I believe that every American should be proud of what our most iconic industry has done."

But not everyone in Detroit was in a celebratory mood.

German automaker Volkswagen continues to reel from an emissions-cheating scandal.

In his first official U.S. visit since the scandal broke in September, newly-tapped chief executive Matthias Mueller apologized and insisted the German auto giant is "fully committed to making things right."

"We know that we have let down customers, authorities, regulators and the general public here in America," the head of the German carmaker said at a media reception Sunday night. "We are--I am--truly sorry for that and I would like to apologize once again for what went wrong at Volkswagen," he added, stressing that "our most important task in 2016 is to win back trust."

The Wolfsburg-based group admitted to installing software in around 11 million diesel cars of its VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands worldwide that helped them evade emissions standards.

On Monday, the head of the  German Association of the Automotive Industry said they will continue to promote diesel cars in the United States.

"Despite the resistance we are naturally experiencing here in the US, the German automotive industry will stand by its diesel strategy," said Matthias Wissmann. "We stand firmly behind diesel vehicles."

Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche took a not-so-subtle dig at his rival VW Sunday night.

He told reporters at a lavish party unveiling the new Mercedes E-Class luxury sedan that in contrast to "some German automakers," Santa Claus "left a lot of candy in our stockings" in 2015.

"It's obvious that the last year was not very nice for everybody and for some time the entire industry was affected by that," he said later. "But there's clear differentiation and we feel full confidence with our customer base and our stakeholders again."