Ford Motor Co  plans to invest $450 million to build a new manufacturing plant in Thailand, with the bulk of the output destined for export markets as part of its expansion in Asia Pacific.

The new plant in the eastern province of Rayong will build Ford Focus passenger cars from 2012 but will have the flexibility to produce a diversified range of vehicles in the future, Ford said in a statement on Thursday.

This investment underscores our long term commitment to Thailand and its role as a global production and export hub for Ford, said Joe Hinrichs, president for Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. The 750,000 square meter (8.07 million sq ft) assembly plant will have initial capacity of 150,000 units a year and up to 85 percent of its production will be for markets outside Thailand.

Ford planned to buy up to $800 million worth of local components annually and the plant had the potential to support up to 11,000 new jobs, the statement said.

($1 = 32.37 Baht)

(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)