Thailand’s Board of Investment approves proposals by Suzuki Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. for multi-million dollar spending under the government’s EcoCar project.

Suzuki Automobile (Thailand) Co. Ltd. plans a new 9.5 billion baht ($313 million) plant in Rayong province that will open in 2010 and produce 138,000 small cars annually from complete-knocked-down kits.

Nissan plans to invest TB5.5 billion ($181 million) through its Siam Nissan Automobile Co. Ltd. subsidiary to build more facilities and equipment for small-car production at its assembly plant in Samut Prakan, as well as a CKD production unit. The expansion, to be completed in 2010, would give Nissan capacity for 120,000 small cars annually.

Meanwhile, AutoAlliance (Thailand) Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., has applied for promotional privileges for TB21 billion ($685 million) worth of investment at its compact-sedan plant in Rayong province.

The facility is expected to have an annual capacity of 140,000 vehicles and 105,000 auto parts.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. previously said it would spend TB6.7 billion ($221 million) for a car and parts manufacturing plant with a capacity of up to 120,000 vehicles annually.

Thai Industry Minister Kosit Panpiemras says four other auto makers are seeking investment privileges for ventures worth a combined TB40 billion ($1.3 billion) to develop new eco-cars.

Volkswagen AG, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Thailand Co. Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd. each have submitted applications to the Board of Investment to build new production plants to produce subcompact eco-cars, he says.

Kosit says the Board of Investment will accelerate its reviews of the latest applications and expects to approve the projects by the end of the month.

Under the government’s EcoCar project, auto makers must commit to producing at least 100,000 small, fuel-efficient cars annually within five years.