Mitsubishi Motors Corp on Thursday announced its plans to invest $532 million in a new Thailand plant, where it will manufacture 'global small' cars starting from March 2012.

The new factory will begin mass production in March 2012, with a capacity of 150,000 units per year level and in the future increased to 200,000 units per annum.  The plant will employ 3,000 new staff.

 It's my great pleasure that Mitsubishi Motors Thailand's factory becomes a part of our Eco-car Project. This Mitsubishi factory will bring to Thailand many technologies for automobile production and lead to improve labor skills for auto industry as well as related industries, said Thai minister Chaiwut Bannawat.

The 'global small' will be positioned as an entry model in MMC's model lineup, and plans are to export the vehicle from Thailand to markets worldwide as a global strategic vehicle that corresponds to both market needs of emerging countries, for which demand for automobiles is expected to increase, and advanced nations, where vehicle downsizing is increasing in order to correspond to energy issues in addition to environmental awareness, the statement said.

Earlier during the day, The popularization of EVs in Thailand will not only contribute to the reduction of environmental burdens, but I also firmly believe that the popularization of EVs in Thailand will be an important aspect in bolstering Thailand's competitive edge in the next generation vehicle industry, Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said .

Mitsubishi Motors sells the i-MiEV in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and European markets. It is also collaborating on initiatives to promote EVs with various governments such as Denmark and Singapore.

The governments across the world have set aside billions of dollars in the form of subsidies for early adopters of these alternative energy cars and to boost production of batteries for such vehicles despite persisting doubts about how many people will actually buy them.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, plug-in electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, have the potential to make up 9% of auto sales in 2020 and 22% in 2030 (1.6 million and 4 million vehicle sales respectively).