China commercial vehicle manufacturer BeiqiFoton Motor has set up a wholly-owned distributor in Thailand to drive the brand's expansion strategy in the country.

Bangkok-based Foton Automobile (Thailand) was recently established with a registered capital of THB102m (US$2.9m) to take control of vehicle import and distribution in this market.

Foton's former Thai distributor, United Motors Company, struggled to generate momentum for the brand but will remain an authorised dealer.

BeiqiFoton also recently signed an agreement with local assembler Bangchan General Assembly Company to produce pickup trucks and light passenger vehicles for markets across South-east Asia.

Bangchan agreed to an eventual production target of 10,000 Foton vehicles per year with a 40% minimum local content. Production is scheduled to be start in November, with the first local models to be displayed at the Thailand International Motor Expo in early December.

Foton Automobile (Thailand) president GengChao told local reporters he is confident that Foton's product quality and technology will help it succeed in a market dominated by Japanese brands such as Toyota, Isuzu and Mitsubishi.

Mr Chao said his company has a sales target of 3,500 vehicles for next year, rising to 6,000 units in 2018. He expects to have 26 sales outlets in place in Thailand by the end of the year and 70 by the end of 2017.