Thailand expects production of cars and pickup trucks to rise 70% by 2006 as companies such as Honda Motor move their car plants to the Southeast Asian nation and demand increases, Bloomberg News reported.

According to the report, the government forecast production of vehicles to top one million units by 2006, from 584,951 in 2002, Manu Leopairote, permanent secretary at the Thai industry ministry, said during a speech at an automobile conference in Bangkok. Total production of motorcycles, including assembled ones, will more than double to 5 million units in 2006 from 1.98 million in 2002, he reportedly said.

"Five to 10 years from now, Thailand will be the automotive production base in Asia," Manu said, according to Bloomberg News.

Consumer spending on new cars, homes and other products is fuelling Thailand's economic growth, Bloomberg News noted, adding that the government on Monday raised its gross domestic product growth forecast for this year to as much as 5.5%, faster than last year's 5.2% expansion. Low lending rates for vehicles and demand for new models has driven up car sales, the report added.