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Mao’s Favored ‘Red Flag’ Car Seeks a New Audience in Japan

A Hongqi H9 G4 vehicle in a showroom in Osaka.
A Hongqi H9 G4 vehicle in a showroom in Osaka.Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

China FAW Group Co., the carmaker whose luxury Hongqi model was used to transport Chairman Mao Zedong, is betting on a new audience in Japan, opening its first showroom in the country as it seeks to crack a market that’s fiercely loyal to domestic brands.

A Hongqi -- which means red flag -- dealership opened in Osaka last month and 22 vehicles have been sold so far, although they went to Chinese living in Japan, Li Wang, an executive at the dealership, said Friday. FAW’s most popular model, the H9, costs as much as 15 million yen ($130,000).