Thai vehicle sales are forecast to grow 11% to 700,000 units in 2008, up from 631,251 sold last year, according to Toyota Motor Thailand, the industry's statistician.

Sales last year fell 7.5%, following a 3.0% drop in 2006, as consumers shunned major purchaces in the wake of a military coup that toppled premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Agence France Press (AFP) reported.

But Toyota Thailand chief Mitsuhiro Sonoda told the news agency consumer sentiment is expected to improve once a new government is installed following elections on 23 December, which Thaksin's allies won.

"Signs point to a general economic recovery in terms of growth, as the political situation improves and amid confidence that the new government will restore economic and political stability," Sonoda said.

"We expect vehicle sales for 2008 will grow at 11% year-on-year to 700,000, units including 217,000 passenger cars and 483,000 commercial vehicles," he told AFP.

Market leader Toyota expects a 9.9% rise this year to 310,000 units, taking over 44% of the market, the report added.

Thailand is an export 'production hub' for Japanese-brand pickup trucks and a growing number of other types of vehicle.

Tata and Volkswagen recently submitted proposals for new car plants under the government's new 'eco car' programme.