China’s growing appetite for luxury vehicles has prompted joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) to boost its local presence. The existing factory in Dadong where the X3 and 5 series are assembled has been expanded to accommodate a new product. We’re talking about the X5 Li, a long-wheelbase version of the popular SUV.
After its premiere in early March, the stretched X5 Li has now entered production at BBA’s Dadong plant. It is the largest car factory of a luxury brand active in China and the largest factory of the BMW Group. In fact, a third of all vehicles made by the company last year came from Shenyang, where the joint venture also operates the Tiexi plant. Together, the two assembled more than 700,000 vehicles last year.
How big is the Dadong factory? With a footprint of 910,000 square meters, it’s roughly the size of 125 football pitches. It includes body, paint and press shops, as well as an assembly building with two production lines. The solar panel array alone measures 179,000 square meters after the upgrade, generating more than 21 MWh of energy. BBA has also installed additional charging stations for use by employees who own electric vehicles. Speaking of which, the Dadong plant is the only place where the iX3 crossover is assembled.
With the X5 Li and i3 sedans, BBA’s manufacturing footprint expands
The aforementioned Tiexi factory brings together the 1 and 3 series with the X1 and X2. This summer, BBA will inaugurate a third manufacturing plant, Plant Lydia. At this new plant, the recently unveiled i3 sedan will be manufactured exclusively for the People’s Republic. Much like the electric sedan, the X5 Li will also remain a Chinese-only affair.
To live up to its X5 Li moniker, BMW has lengthened the SUV’s wheelbase by 130 mm (5.1 inches). The X5 now measures 3,105mm (122 inches) between the axles, perfectly matching the wheelbase of the X7. It will be offered in xDrive30Li and xDrive40Li configurations with standard xDrive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although spy photos have revealed that a facelift is on the way for the Spartanburg-built global X5, the Chinese model is based on the pre-LCI variant.