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A detail jumped out this week as Volkswagen AG reported its earnings for 2016: A good part of its return to profitability after its travails of 2015 can be attributed to Porsche, which recorded record profit of $4.1 billion on the sale of 238,000 vehicles.

That pencils out to an average profit of $17,250 per car. On average revenue of $99,000 per car.

If $17,250 sounds like a lot, well, it is, especially considering that German competitors Mercedes and BMW clear around $5,000 per car. Also, considering there a lot of cars you could buy new with a Porsche's profit alone - from a Ford Fiesta to a Chevy Sonic, in some cases with cash left over.

It's the kind of cash-cow status that rivals what Detroit automakers pull down for pickups and SUVs. By some calculations, Ford clears from $10,000 to more than $13,000 per F-150 - the most tricked-out version of which still sells for a lot less than a Panamera.

By corporate average, Toyota has generally been the leader at around $2,800 per car.

So how does Porsche do it? The profit spike coincides with an output spike of 47 percent thanks to the debut of the Macan, the most affordable Porsche. And Bloomberg points out that there are no stripper Porsches, while even Mercedes can produce a modestly equipped car for the masses. You can buy a Macan for a mere $47,500, but no one does - throw in a few creature comforts and you're past $60K in a flash, the profit building with each line item added.

Or as Oliver Blume, Porsche board chairman, said in a statement, "We're concentrating on delighted customers."

And the delight seems to run both ways.

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