What to watch for in the automobile industry in 2014

|By:, SA News Editor

Kelley Blue Book sees U.S. auto sales of 16.3M units this year to rep a growth rate of 4.9%. One of the biggest risks to the industry is a bump in interest rates to a level where buyers are pushed away from purchasing new cars. Industry watchers think the luxury sector (VLKAY, BAMXY, DDAIF) could see the sharpest impact as consumer previously willing to stretch trade down.

Ford's (F) increased use of aluminum in the widely popular F-150 line will be in focus. Analysts think could consumer reaction could go either way. Rival truck makers like Ram (FIATY) are set to pounce if the aluminum concerns show any validity.

Japanese automakers (NSANY, TM, HMC, MZDAY, SZKMY, FUJHY) are betting big on growth in the U.S. as tensions in China continue to crop up and clip sales from climbing to full potential .The group is seen as likely to use incentives and promotions in the U.S. to gain market share if sales momentum slows.

Toyota vs Telsa: Top execs with the two automakers have dialed up the rhetoric on the use of hydrogen fuel cell cars despite being long-time partners. With the Toyota (TM) FCV and Tesla (TSLA +4.5%) Model X both slated for a 2015 launch, the remainder of this year could see the war of words escalate.