- Despite some recent concerns on the U.S. automobile industry - including high inventory at General Motors (GM) and pricing pressures at Ford (F) - the industry is in the best shape that it's been in years, say some analysts.
- On demand: The average age of vehicles in the U.S. has never been higher at 11.3 years. Some pent-up demand from the fall when government shutdown worries stalled sales is also still being unleashed.
- On profits: Though a high level of promotional activity in December helped to juice sales figures at the expense of profits, some underlying positive trends remain in place. The increased use of domestic production in supply chains and the early success of 2014 models at premium pricing bodes well for bottom lines in the sector.
- On leased cars: Analysts think the lease cycle sets up well for the industry in 2014.Toyota (TM) has aggressive leasing plans in place.
- On gas mileage: Consumers will be tempted to trade into new vehicles with vastly improved gas mileage ratings. Honda (HMC) tops the list while Ford's betting truck owners will go for a lighter F-150 in the future. In the luxury segment, Tesla (TSLA) and Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF) want to carve out more EV market share by reeling in middle-class buyers trading up while cutting down on gas costs.
- On brand reputation: Automakers such as Subaru (FUJHY) and Chrysler (FIATY) have seen consumer sentiment scores turn around as new models impress.
Automakers in 2014: Gunning for a smashing year
Dec 26 2013, 16:20 ET