Frank Roesler, the newly appointed president of the BMW Group in Thailand, has told the Bangkok Post that the company has set a five-year target of boosting its sales in Thailand’s premium car segment by 2.5 times to 10,000 units by 2008. The figure would include a mixture of locally assembled and imported vehicles.

In an interview with the newspaper, Roesler outlined a three-pronged strategy for Thailand consisting of further market exploration, brand perception strengthening and profitability in relation to the performance of BMW worldwide.

He also said that meeting the sales target will require the BMW 5 Series car to be assembled at the company’s Rayong plant, in addition to the current 3 and 7 Series assembly. With a total investment of 40 million euros, the plant was designed with a maximum capacity of 10,000 units a year.

Roesler said the company was on track to achieve profitability in Thailand but declined to give a specific timeframe.

The Bangkok Post said that in 2002 BMW increased its domestic sales by almost 26% to 4,049 units, but still lags behind Mercedes-Benz in the premium segment of the market.

The newspaper also said that Roesler confirmed BMW’s intention to develop Thailand as its sole production base for the Asean area. He said the 330i would be shipped to Indonesia in the second quarter, followed by the 7 Series, under the low-tariff scheme of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).

Malaysia and Singapore were targeted export markets as well.

Last year, the Rayong factory utilised half of its maximum installed capacity, producing 3,000 units. Meeting the maximum capacity of 10,000 units would require a big increase in exports.