BMW's Thai plant would start to assemble the X3 SUV early next year, at first for the domestic market but perhaps later for export, BMW AG CEO Helmut Panke said at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, BMW expects sales in Asia to break the 100,000-vehicle mark this year after sales reached 81,000 in the first nine months.

Hitting 100,000 would be up from 95,000 retail sales in Asia last year and keep the group well on the way to boosting annual sales in the region to 150,000 by 2008, he reportedly said.

In all, BMW expects group sales to reach 1.4 million units around the world by 2008, up from around 1.3 million this year, Reuters added.