What are the most profitable vehicles of modern times? Veteran analyst Max Warburton and his team at Bernstein Research in London came up with a list of the top global money-spinners since 1990.
Warburton said the big winners combined high prices, huge volume and long periods of production that spread development costs over a long period. He found three categories of cash cows: German luxury cars; Japanese mid-sized sedans; and, most lucrative of all, American full-sized pickups. Meanwhile, high-priced Ferraris and Aston Martins provide a huge margins but no volume and big sellers such as the Volkswagen Golf don't offer a big enough margin despite a massive volume.
"The sweet spot for the industry is high prices and decent volumes (BMW 5 series, Mercedes E Class) and medium-sized price points and massive volumes (Ford F-series pickups, SUVs)," Warburton said.
The Japanese sedans had the toughest road to fat profits because of their modest price points. Only the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry generated enough volume to make Bernstein's list of the top 12.
The German vehicles on the list were the BMW 5 and 3 series, Mercedes-Benz S class and E class and Porsche 911.