Whether it's as simple as Ferrari offering model cars or as opulent as Bugatti with an $84,000-belt buckle, practically every automaker does more than just sell cars to keep their brands visible. The profits from these ventures might not be enough to keep the lights on, but in such a competitive industry, any extra cash is welcome.

For the automakers that get licensing just right, there is a ton of profit to be made. According to a recent story examining the practice by The New York Times, Ferrari makes around $2.6 billion from merchandising each year, and General Motors tops that at $3.5 billion.

Beyond just a profit center, merchandising can also protect an automaker's name. Take Hummer for example. The GM division shut down years ago, but it has continued to produce licensed cologne on sale around the world. "Because we still have the active fragrance, we're protecting the brand if we ever decide to bring it back," Gene Reamer, a GM licensing senior manager, told the Times.

The whole piece is a fascinating look into this often ignored, but quite lucrative facet of the auto business. Read it for yourself, here.

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