NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Detroit is bustling this week as droves of car-admirers flock to the annual North American International Auto Show. At this event, top car makers from around the globe including Ford (F), Porsche, Audi, BYD, and Volkswagon have managed to woo Motor City crowds with new models and technologies which will help prolong the global automotive industry down the path to recovery.The revival of the auto industry has been one of the most exciting developments throughout this global economic healing process. At the height of the Great Recession in the U.S., we watched companies such as Ford and General Motors ( GM) flirt with collapse. However, throughout the ensuing recovery, these same firms have staged a dramatic comeback, marked most recently by GM's re-listing on the New York Stock Exchange. This sector clearly has further to go and will likely face hurdles down the road. However, as highlighted this week in a TheStreet interview with Ford CFO Louis Booth, confidence is on the rebound for autos. Given the dramatic nature of the auto industry's recovery, it is no wonder that car companies and their parts suppliers make for attractive investing opportunities. Despite the car industry's attraction, there are only a limited number of ways investors can gain concentrated access to the auto resurgence outside of stock picking. In early 2010, Direxion filed paperwork for the Direxion Auto Shares. However, this fund is yet to launch and currently there are no ETFs on the market which provide investors with direct pure play exposure to auto industry players. Instead, funds such as the Global X Lithium ETF ( LIT), ETFS Physical Platinum Shares ( PPLT) and ETFS Physical Palladium Shares ( PALL) may prove effective proxies. Electric-powered cars have generated some of the most interest at this year's AIAS with the Chevy Volt earning the title of North American Car of the Year, and companies including Ford and Honda ( HMC) unveiling new battery-powered models. Global X's LIT is one way investors can follow this exciting shift towards electric powered cars. This fund gathers together a diverse basket of companies which are dedicated to the production of lithium and should see a lot of upside potential as more companies take a green approach to automobile production.
PALL and PPLT should continue to see strength amidst the auto industry's continued recovery as well. Platinum and palladium are essential components in the production of catalytic converters and will benefit as general demand for cars increases in both the developed and emerging worlds. LIT, PPLT and PALL may provide adequate proxy exposure to autos. However, investors looking for a diversified way to access equities related to cars should turn to the Fidelity Select Automotive Fund ( FSAVX). Whereas, in the past, FSAVX offered a unique take on the auto industry, exposing investors to a basket of companies primarily involved in the supply business, the fund's manager recently has ramped up the FSAVX's exposure to top domestic and international car manufacturers. As of Nov. 30, FSAVX's top five positions include Toyota ( TM), Ford, Honda, Johnson Controls ( JCI), and TRW Automotive Holdings ( TRW). The car industry's prospects looking ahead appear promising. However, navigating the auto market using mutual funds and ETFs takes a close eye. Funds such as LIT, PALL, PPLT, and FSAVX will certainly be exciting to watch as this slice of the market continues to get back into gear. Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.