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