So, what are we to make of the New York show? Is it a purely parochial affair, staged to provide a fillip to the Greater New York dealers who organise it, or an event worthy of the word "international" in its title?

The truth is, it's a bit of both. For seasoned global show-goers who have already trawled Detroit and Geneva this year there's not much to see beyond the Range Rover Sport, Kia Soul, Jeep Cherokee, Jaguar XJR and XKR-S GT.

But for a stay-at-home American audience there was a first glimpse of some of the cars that were at Geneva, plus additions and revisions to products for the domestic market. These included a new Cadillac CTS; the third model in Kia's Forte line-up, the Koup; next year's new Toyota Highlander SUV and the 2015 Volkswagen Golf. That's right, the Americans don't get the new Golf until late next year, though VW America CEO Jonathan Browning did announce that in future it will be built at the company's Mexican plant and powered by locally sourced engines.

New York is not a show which goes in for the green message in a big way, like its counterparts in Europe or Los Angeles. At the moment everyone just seems to be happy that the good times are back. US sales in 2012 were 13.5% up on the year before at 14.5m and are forecast by J D Power and Associates to rise by another 800,000 this year to 15.3m. That's still below the 16.1m in the last pre-financial crisis year - 2007 - but heading in the right direction.

Our March sales report from the US is here

All of this is making US shows seem remarkably chipper affairs, especially to those of us who remember Los Angeles in 2010 when Chrysler literally turned the lights out on its stand and the General Motors floor was unmanned. The problems haven't gone away of course. For Ford and GM they have merely been transferred to their European divisions, who each lost $1.5bn in 2012, while Chrysler's fortunes are inextricably linked to those of struggling parent company Fiat. But in New York there's an element of Not Happening Here, and the mood is upbeat. The show organisers are expecting 1m visitors before the doors close on 7 April.

So, what are American customers buying? Almost half - 47% - rate gas mileage as one of the most important factors, but for financial rather than ecological reasons. More than a quarter are downsizing - double the number who plan to trade up.

Hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales are climbing again after four years of steady decline and totalled close to half a million last year, but only 14,000 buyers were tempted by a battery electric vehicle - less than one third of a per cent. On top of concerns about range and the recharging infrastructure, US buyers feel most of the EVs on offer are too small, and many are worried about reliability.