Ford has announced that production of the third-generation Focus has begun in Thailand. The car will be officially launched in the Kingdom in August, and Malaysia is expected to introduce it in both sedan and five-door hatch forms sometime in the third-quarter of the year.

The C346 is the first model off the line at the company’s new, US$450 million state-of-the-art Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) facility in Rayong, which is capable of producing up to six different models simultaneously. Next on the cards will be the EcoSport compact SUV, though no introduction date has yet been announced.

The facility is the fifth globally to produce the Focus, with the Thai-built models also destined for export to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as other ASEAN markets. In addition to FTM, the model is built at Ford plants in Chongqing, China; Saarlouis, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia, and Wayne, Michigan.

Thailand will build both sedan and hatch versions of the car, with available powertrains for it being two normally-aspirated units, the first being the Duratec 2.0L Ti-VCT GDi (gasoline direct injection) offering 170 PS and 200 Nm of torque for figures. It’ll be paired to a six-speed, dual dry-clutch PowerShift transmission, replete with paddle shifters.

The second powertrain is the Duratec 1.6 litre Ti-VCT engine, already seen on the current Fiesta, offering 125 PS and 159 Nm, matched to the six-speed PowerShift transmission. At the car’s ASEAN launch at the Bangkok Motor Show in March, there was mention of the availability of a five-speed iB5 manual gearbox for the 1.6 litre model. Malaysia, however, is set to get variants wearing only the 2.0 litre mill.

With production underway, the regional media drive of the Focus is set to happen soon, and we’ll be there. Stay tuned for our first impressions of the C346. In the meantime, Sime Darby Auto ConneXion has started a Ford Focus in Malaysia Facebook fan page, so you can find out more about the Malaysian-spec Focus there.