BANGKOK, Thailand -- Proud locals call Thailand the "Detroit of the East" because their country is the auto juggernaut of Southeast Asia.
But the economically booming region's new darling market is the former pariah dictatorship next door, Myanmar.
Ford is among those rushing into the newly open -- but exceedingly poor -- country, hoping to ride a road to riches. In mid-August, the U.S. carmaker opened its first dealership there in Yangon, the country's biggest city and commercial hub.
Make no mistake: Ambitions are meager for now, reflecting the fact that the country just emerged from decades of military oppression.
Per-capita gross domestic product is only $1,400, below that of even North Korea and around a tenth that of neighboring Thailand.
Yet Ford has already sold about 100 vehicles, mostly Ranger pickups, and 70 more are back ordered, spokesman Neal McCarthy said.
Weekly traffic at the 28,000-square-foot dealership has averaged around 120 people, even before its ceremonial grand opening on Oct. 4. It has a 12-vehicle showroom and 12-vehicle service bay.
Ford also aims to sell the F-series pickup and Taurus sedan. The Myanmar market is so new there is hardly any data about local buying habits or consumer trends.