Chin up, Detroit.

That's the message from Toyota Motor North America Inc. President Jim Press, who says better days are ahead for the U.S. auto industry.

Calling this the “year of turmoil” because of plant closings, job cuts and wrangling over health-care at General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group, Press says Detroit still is and will remain the industry's “epicenter.”

“This is a brief moment in history that will give us a stronger foundation,” he says of restructuring. “The opportunities for growth are many.”

Press, recently named as the first American to Toyota Motor Corp.'s board of directors and singled out by the Automotive Industry Action Group as its executive of the year, says the industry should ignore today's depressing headlines and concentrate on long-term objectives and global opportunities.

“Right now, we're working through a situation of excess supply,” he says. “It's a tough period. But you have to avoid short-term thinking. There are long-term, global opportunities ahead.”

Detroit should focus on a technological path back to good health and seek to solve issues surrounding vehicle safety, driver distraction and traffic congestion, Press says.

“All these things will be solved through innovation and technology,” he says. “And the foundation will be right here in Detroit. Detroit will emerge from this in a strong position.”

Press says he is encouraged by the restructuring moves at GM and Ford and the potential sale of Chrysler by DaimlerChrysler AG.