The Bangkok Post reports that the local content of Thai-made Mercedes-Benz cars will be lifted to 40% next year - from around 23% currently - to increase the export potential, especially to other ASEAN markets.

The company currently makes S, E and C class models in Thailand - for local consumption only.

Products traded within ASEAN are eligible for preferential tax treatment under the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) provided that they have at least 40% local content.

DaimlerChrysler (Thailand) Co's president, Karl-Heinz Heckhausen, told the newspaper that the shipment of Thai-made parts to DC factories worldwide was the first step in export plans, but that built up units would follow.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 units per annum of Mercedes-Benz cars are currently made in Thailand.

The newspaper says that the firm aims to sell 1,000 E-Class units this year and 2,000 next year. This year, it hopes to sell 4,500 units of all car models, either locally-made or imported, up from 3,700 last year.