Nissan Motor said on Thursday it remained on course to achieve its ambitious plan to raise annual vehicle production capacity in Thailand to 200,000 by 2008 from 130,000 now.

About 70,000 of Nissan's Thai-made pick-up trucks would be exported to about 100 countries in 2008, compared with only 830 vehicles in 2005, Kosaku Hosokawa, president of Siam Nissan Automobile, told Reuters.

Thailand is already an export hub for light trucks made by Mazda/Ford, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Isuzu.

The 2008 export target would make Thailand Nissan's third largest export base after Japan and Mexico, Hosokawa reportedly told a news conference.

To help reach its 2008 target, Nissan had launched three car and truck models in Thailand, the largest southeast Asian auto market, since last year and planned to introduce seven more by 2008, he said.

"Nissan has improved the product line to turn Thailand into a production base for exporting pick-up trucks and other vehicles," he said, according to the news agency.

"Thailand will also be utilised as a base for the ASEAN region and beyond for exporting engines and other parts, starting from this year onward," he said.

According to Reuters, intense competition from dominant Japanese rivals like Toyota and Honda, saw Nissan's Thai market ranking slip to 5th place in 2005 with a 5.8% share, down from 4th place and 7.3% in 2004.

It sold 40,602 cars and trucks in 2005, down from 45,697 in 2004. In the first 4 months of 2006, Nissan's sales in Thailand fell to 12,088 from 13,978 in the same period of 2005, the report added.