As part of a plan to sell the Maxus Datong light commercial van across the world, SAIC will introduce it in Thailand in 2014 through its SAIC Motor-CP joint venture with Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, reported The Bangkok Post.

The van was added to SAIC's line following its second acquisition of a British automaker - LDV Group in 2010 after its earlier nabbing of MG Rover via rival Chinese automaker Nanjing.

SAIC Motor-CP will import RHD versions in KD kit form from SAIC Motor's Shanghai plant and assemble them locally, the paper said, citing Nopadol Chiaravanont, vice-chairman of CP Group's automotive and industrial subsidiary ECI Group.

The Maxus Datong will be levied a lower import tariff than passenger cars - 47% including VAT - compared with tariffs on passenger cars which range from 187-328%, depending on engine size.

The first model on sale will be the V80 with 2.5-litre diesel engine. According to the Post, SAIC Motor-CP wants sales of 1,000 units in the first year and 1,800 units within two to three years.

It will have 15-20 dealers in Thailand who will also sell locally assembled MG 3, 5 and 6 car models.

The Bangkok Post cited assistant VP Abhichet Sitakalin saying the Maxus Datong would make a strong challenge in its sector as most vans in Thailand are imported. It will be priced at around THB1.24m (US$39,000), compared with Japanese models ranging from THB896,000 to THB1.16m.

Abhichet added: "The Maxus' external and internal looks are completely different from other vans with a higher roof of 170cm and above, wider sliding doors and seats for 9-16 persons."

Nopadol gave the Bangkok Post more details of the plant that, as just-auto reported in July, SAIC Motor-CP will open in Rayong's Amata City Industrial Estate as the RHD vehicle production hub for exports to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. The new plant will have a production capacity of 200,000 vehicles annually.

He said: "When sales and [servicing] of the MG and Maxus Datong are [established], it will be the right time to capture the [RHD] export market."