The Detroit auto show offers automakers a chance to show off their products. It also offers them a chance to check out the competition. They sure avail themselves of that opportunity.

Auto executives like GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz methodically tour the show, spending a lot of time at competitors' displays. Lutz even stopped by the exhibit spread of DaimlerChrysler, his old employer, to see what's up.

“There's Bob Lutz and his entourage,” said one DaimlerChrysler executive, not quite ready to start locking the doors of the display vehicles, but definitely taking notice of the drop-in company.

Meanwhile, over at the Honda display, a bunch of VW executives eyed the new Honda Pilot, a combination minivan and all-wheel-drive sports ute.

“Got to see what the competition is up to,” says Jens Neumann, who's in charge of VW in North America, as he slipped out of the Pilot's backseat.

Meanwhile, it's tough for reporters to find a seat at manufacturers' press conferences during the auto show. It's tough because people from competing auto companies often occupy the best seats.