BANGKOK — Global automakers are regaining confidence in a rebounding Thailand. Several carmakers recently announced plans to gain a prominent foothold in the Southeast Asian country, which is among the first to show signs of recovery from 1997's crippling financial crisis.

General Motors Corp. is giving the go-ahead once again to build a new plant on Thailand's eastern seaboard. The automaker unveiled plans for its Southeast Asian production center three years ago but shelved the project when the economy spun out of control.

The manufacturing facility will have an annual output of 40,000 units, much less than the original goal of 100,000 units. Reports say GM now plans to build the Zafira multipurpose vehicle, also built in Bochum, Germany, by Adam Opel AG, rather than the initially planned 4-door sedan. Some 15% of total output is intended for the Thai market; the rest is slated for export to other parts of the region.

Ford Motor Co. in August announced plans to establish its Southeast Asian headquarters in Bangkok. Ford says it will use the headquarters as a planning and communications center for business in the 10-member Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Ford, which builds pickups here, has plans to begin making a passenger car with Mazda Motor Corp. in January 2000.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. reportedly plans to increase production at a Thai facility that manufactures its Accord model to 27,000 vehicles, up 38% from last year. Honda uses Thailand as an export base to the ASEAN region.

Isuzu Motors Ltd. will relocate its 1-ton pickup production to Thailand in 2002, the company recently told the Japanese press. The automaker plans to make the country a major production base for export to the world market, officials say in the published report.

BMW AG is nearing completion of a US$32 million Thai plant and says it will start building sedans by early next year. Initial plans call for the production of 10,000 units annually by 2004, primarily for the local market.