automakers
Mercedes-Benz posts record sales in 2018

Mercedes-Benz sold 2.31 million passenger cars last year, likely enough to make it the top-selling premium automotive brand in 2018, although some analysts question how much longer German manufacturers can dominate the luxury-car industry.

BMW, Audi and Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz have held sway in the market for high-performance limousines for decades, but analysts warn that a shift toward electric and self-driving cars could open the door to new challengers, such as U.S. manufacturer Tesla.

BMW and Audi have yet to release annual sales data. Tesla said it delivered 245,240 vehicles in 2018.

The success of the German manufacturers is based on sales of vehicles with combustion engines at a time when customers are hankering for newer electric cars with sophisticated software-based infotainment systems.

The Germans are also launching electric cars, but their profits come mainly from sales of vehicles with high-horsepower diesel and gasoline engines.

Mercedes-Benz posted a new sales record last year thanks to an 11 percent sales jump in China, the world’s largest car market, while sales in the United States and Europe fell 6.3 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

“In 2018, Mercedes-Benz was at the top of the premium segment in the automotive industry for the third year in a row,” Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said Tuesday.

Analysts said the Stuttgart-based company remained ahead of BMW and Volkswagen-owned Audi thanks to increased production capacity in China.

— Reuters

AVIATION
Boeing retains crown as largest plane maker

Boeing delivered a record 806 commercial aircraft in 2018, edging out Airbus to retain the crown as world’s largest plane maker as both manufacturers kept factories churning late into December to overcome earlier supplier shortfalls.

The U.S. industrial titan also revealed a last-minute flurry of aircraft deals, enabling it to sell more jets than it built in 2018. Boeing netted orders for 893 jetliners last year with a list value of $143.7 billion, padding its backlog and easing investor concerns that U.S.-China trade tensions and whipsawing oil prices could soften demand for new planes.

For Boeing and Airbus, aerospace’s dueling duopolists, year-end order and delivery totals provide bragging rights — and a first hint of the company earnings reports to be announced over the next month. While Boeing fell shy of its target, Airbus met its twice-lowered delivery goal of 800 jets in 2018, according to preliminary results released Tuesday.

— Bloomberg News

PHARMACEUTICALS
Eli Lilly to provide list prices on website

Eli Lilly will not put the price of its prescription drugs in television ads, as the Trump administration has called for pharmaceutical companies to do, but will instead offer patients a link to a website with information about prescription costs.

On Tuesday, the Indianapolis-based maker of popular diabetes treatments started airing television ads touting the website lillypricinginfo.com, along with a toll-free telephone number. The site will have information about drug list prices, patient assistance programs and average patient cost for medicine.

As part of a push to lower drug costs for Americans, the Trump administration has proposed requiring drugmakers to put the list price of their products in advertisements.

List prices are the cost of drugs before accounting for rebates and insurance co-pays, and drugmakers have said they do not necessarily reflect what people actually pay. Critics say list prices are relevant because many Americans have coinsurance and high-deductible plans that force them to shoulder a significant portion of a drug’s price.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

Ford Motor Co. may be a 115-year-old industrial giant, but the company leads the likes of Google and Amazon by one key measure of innovation. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker broke into the top 10 list of U.S. patent recipients last year with 53 more than Google and 88 more than Amazon, according to an analysis of figures from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Fairview Research's IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. Ford trailed Apple by 37 patents.

Coming today

2 p.m.: Federal Reserve releases minutes from its December interest-rate meeting.