Asian Honda Motor will start exporting new 2003 model Accord sedans manufactured in Thailand to Australia and New Zealand before the end of the year, AutoAsia Online reported.

The previous 1998-2002 model, essentially a right hand drive version of the US-specification car, was also shipped from Thailand, replacing US-built cars about two years into the model run. Early models were also assembled in New Zealand for a few months until import tariff removal in the late 1990s made CKD operations there uneconomic.

AutoAsia Online said that Asian Honda expects to export more than 6,000 Accords to the two markets in the first full 12 months, boosting the annual value of Thailand automotive exports by some 3.5 billion baht ($US83.7 million).

The programme means that Thailand, along with Japan and the USA, will be one of only three countries in the world from which Honda exports its complete range of products, AutoAsia Online said.

The website said the export models are the Australian and New Zealand specification versions of the Accord 2.3-litre VTEC LEV and the 3.0-litre V6 VTEC.

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The former will be the first Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) to be offered to Australian and New Zealand consumers and the company hopes it will strike a chord with environmentally conscious consumers, AutoAsia Online said.

Honda Australia will utilise the Australian federal government’s Export Facilities Scheme (EFS) to encourage the inclusion of Australian-made components in the Accords it imports from Thailand, the website added.