BANGKOK — Swedish truck and bus manufacturer Scania AB now is responsible for the import and distribution of all Scania products in Thailand, reinforcing its long-term strategy for the Thai market.

The company four months ago announced its decision to establish its own truck and bus assembly plant in the country. A newly established subsidiary, Scania Siam Co., replaces Thai-Taiwanese Forefront Co. as the importer and distributor of Scania truck tractors and tractor cabins, as well as bus chassis.

Scania, which holds 80% share of the new company and the existing Thai and Taiwanese shareholders the remainder, also will be responsible for a future assembly plant to be located in the Eastern Seaboard Industrial State in Rayong province.

The facility will supply vehicles mainly to the Thai market, although officials say the Thai-built trucks and buses may be exported to other markets in the region, as well. Scania Siam predicts that the heavy commercial vehicle market will slowly recover from the decline in sales in recent years.

The Thai market plunged from a sales peak of about 30,000 commercial vehicles annually in the first six months of 1997 to 2,500 in 1999 as a result of the Asian economic crisis.

Anders Spre, managing director of Scania Development in Sweden, says in a published report that the economy now has turned the corner and predicts a market of about 12,000 heavy commercial vehicles per year over the next five years. Scania holds a strong position, with a market share of 25% to 30%.