Ford is expanding its Rayong plant in Thailand to increase production by at least small 100,000 cars per year for export.

In addition to the redesigned Fiesta (which began coming off German assembly lines last week and starts production in Spain in January), Rayong will also build the Mazda 2 which shares the platform.

Ford, in partnership with Mazda, is investing over than US$500m to expand Rayong, the Bangkok Post reported.

The two automakers plan to export the small cars to the ASEAN region plus Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as selling them in the Thai domestic market.

Ford Australia, struggling with falling sales of its sole Falcon/Territory large car/SUV lines, has said recently it hopes to make Australia a production hub for the next generation C-segment Focus (Australia's current Focus line comes mainly from South Africa). Such a move would complement Thai output of the B-segment Focus in the ASEAN/Australasia region.

Ford said recently it would tailor Fiestas made in several plants worldwide to suit the regions in which they are sold. Production that has begun in Europe and will be expanded progressively worldwide by 2010. North American models will come from Mexico while Chinese production is also planned.

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