Mitsubishi Motors plans to launch production of its new generation of light pickups in Thailand in August next year, the Thai Board of Investment said on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, the state-run investment promotion agency said Mitsubishi’s new truck project would raise its Thai production capacity of light-commercial vehicles to 116,000 a year from 83,500 now.

Mitsubishi’s new small Thai-made trucks, of which 70% were to be exported, would replace its Strada series [also known in some markets as the Triton or L200], which had been produced at its Laem Chabang plant southeast of Bangkok since 1997, the Thai Board reportedly said in a statement.

Reuters said the Laem Chabang plant produced about 105,000 passenger cars and trucks in 2003, of which 34,148 were sold in Thailand.

The Thai Board said Mitsubishi would be able to import new machinery for its new truck assembly lines in Thailand duty free, the report added.

Reuters noted that Mitsubishi, owned 37% by DaimlerChrysler , ranked fifth in vehicle sales in Thailand in 2003, trailing Toyota, Isuzu, Honda and Nissan.