General Motors Corp.'s Zafira multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) finally is rolling off the production line at a new Thailand plant 16 months later than originally planned, due to Asia's financial crisis that began in July 1997. GM President Richard Wagoner drove the first vehicle off the line to mark the official start of production at the $640 million facility. Only 15% of the MPVs assembled at the plant will be sold locally. The majority will be exported to Europe, South America, Australia and Singapore. More than 275,000 Zafiras have sold in Europe since the vehicle's launch last year. GM Thailand forecasts Zafira production from May to year-end at 8,000 units, increasing to 40,000 units next year. The plant is designed to produce 130,000 units per year at full capacity, which the company hopes to reach in 2002. - Complied by Barbara McClellan and the Ward's Automotive International staff.