Mazda unveiled the new locally-made Mazda 2 sub-compact in Thailand on Monday, produced at the AutoAlliance (Thailand) plant in Rayong. The model is fitted with a 1.5 litre petrol engine and is compatible with the E20 petrol-ethanol fuel blend.

Prices range between THB 535,000-690,000 and the company was anticipating over 1,000 domestic orders for the model by launch day.

Ford is expected to launch its version of the car, the Fiesta, in early 2010. AutoAlliance will begin exporting the Mazda 2 to other ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia Philippines, and to Australia in December.

The model is expected to bring a welcome lift to Mazda's sagging sales across the region and has been given priority over Ford in terms of launch timing.

Tony Pugliese