For every worker in an assembly plant seven others are employed by suppliers.
They also do more than 70 percent of the innovation research and development for the industry.
The suppliers were hammered harder in the Great Recession because they didn't get a bailout -- 200 companies died. However, in the new year they are looking to expand and hire.
"When we surveyed them just a month or two ago, more than 80 percent said they were going to expand in 2014, said Neal DeKoker, of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association.
Whether its reducing weight in vehicles for fuel economy, like the aluminum breakthroughs in the new Ford truck, or connectivity in vehicles, or the safety enhancements that will drive the electric car, suppliers must take huge risks to avoid falling behind the technology boom or consumer demands.
"OEs and suppliers have to adapt and adopt as it comes out. You can't get behind the curve or you're lost," said Tim Evavold, of Covisint.
Just like the big auto shows in Paris and Shanghai, suppliers are investing in exhibits off-site in Detroit like French interior supplier Faurecia at Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain.
Faurecia does 30 percent of its business in the U.S. with 4,000 Michigan employees and believes investing in this will grow the business.
"We wanted to show our French friends, and German and Spanish, a little bit of Detroit. This hotel was a landmark at one point. It's been revitalized. We took over the space before anyone else realized. It's been terrific," said Mike Heneka, Faurecia N. America president.