Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday thanked Ford Motor Company executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. “for saving our ass.”

Biden made the remark as he met with the auto executive and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., while they toured the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The vice president was referring to the 2008-2009 auto crisis, according to the pool report. Ford was the lone American automaker to not receive government bailout aid.

In a speech at the event, Biden touted the turnaround of the American auto industry and said that without the federal government’s help the nation faced the “likely collapse of the automobile industry.”

“We bet on American ingenuity, we bet on you, and we won,” said Biden.

The vice president predicted that the 21st century would be “the American century in manufacturing.”

“Mark my words — not just in automobiles, but manufacturing coming back to America,” said Biden. “It's coming back because we have a legal system that protects people's contract rights, where intellectual property is protected, where we have the finest research universities in the world, where we produce the single-best technological capability the world has ever seen.”

Biden also predicted the revival of Detroit, home to the nation’s auto industry, and the largest American municipality to declare bankruptcy.

“This is not only an important city, but an iconic city,” said Biden. “It represents, symbolizes the manufacturing might of the United States of America all through the 20th century.”