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Japanese manufacturers of railway cars are making inroads into the United States, taking a sizable share of orders in a market seen as a touchstone for success in globalization by overcoming challenges on the cost front such as the requirement to raise local content.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. has won an order for subway vehicles from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, breaking into what had been a stronghold for European manufacturers. It will be delivering up to 748 subway cars worth a total of about $1.48 billion starting this year.

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