Asia Pulse reports that Toyota factories in Thailand are in full production for the first time since the Asian currency crisis.

Toyota is running double shifts at its Samrong factory, where it makes pickup trucks, and since this month also at its Gateway factory, where it makes passenger cars. A quick recovery in local demand has led the firm to increase production by more than 30% in an effort to boost market share.

The currency crisis struck in 1997, shortly after Toyota completed construction of the Gateway factory. This plant, which has been devoted to passenger cars since last year, makes Corollas, Camrys and the Soluna Vios subcompact.

Orders for the Soluna Vios, made to appeal mainly to young people, have been very strong, topping 20,000 by the end of February, compared with an annual sales target of 30,000.

The Thai domestic market for cars grew 37.8% in 2002, and Toyota expects 2003 growth of 15% to 470,000 vehicles.

Toyota aims to increase production in Thailand to 180,000 vehicles from last year's 135,000. Of the total, about 23,000 units will be exported to neighbouring countries.

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