Ford is to spend US$450m on a new assembly plant in Rayong, Thailand, scheduled for completion in 2012, to help it expand in the Asia Pacific and Africa regions.

The new, flexible facility will be able to build a several different vehicles and will begin manufacturing the Focus in 2012 for both domestic and export markets.

Ford already has a Thai joint venture with Mazda building pickup trucks for global sale outside the US and Canada.

The company plans to purchase up to US$800m worth of local components annually from Thailand’s well established local supply network.

The new plant could provide up to 11,000 new jobs – including up to 2,200 direct jobs with the automaker – with the rest in supplier and dealer networks.

President and CEO Alan Mulally, said: “This is another important step in our aggressive expansion in the Asia Pacific region to meet demand for Ford products in this fast-growing region.

Initial capacity will be 150,000 units per year. The new plant will be highly automated and use Ford’s global manufacturing processes and systems. Up to 85% of output will be exported.

The 750,000 sq m assembly plant will have body and paint shops and trim and final assembly lines.