BMW Group’s X5 Sports Activity Vehicle is getting a makeover.

The German automaker earlier this month unveiled the fourth generation of the popular crossover, which is one of the four models exclusively produced at its Spartanburg County plant. BMW said the 2019 X5 is expected to hit dealerships in November.

“Our new BMW X5 is the continuation of Plant Spartanburg’s success story,” Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co., said in a statement. “With the new X5, our impact in this state and the nation will continue to grow.”

Flor noted that the upcoming launch of the new X5 and first-ever X7 would not only boost production levels at BMW Manufacturing Co., but also lead to increased exports.

“Because of these new models we are adding hundreds of jobs at this plant and at our suppliers, and we will export more cars than ever before in 2019,” he said.

Already BMW Group’s largest plant worldwide in terms of volume, BMW Manufacturing Co. is the birthplace of the company’s X3, X4, X5, and X6 models. The plant, which began operations in 1994, represents a nearly $9 billion investment, produces more than 1,400 vehicles per day, and provides jobs to some 10,000 people. It has been the nation’s largest automotive exporter since 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Aerial footage shows the BMW plant in Spartanburg County. Photo provided.

Despite maintaining top export status and seeing an increase in production totals in 2015 and 2016, BMW experienced a nearly 10 percent decrease in production last year.

A breakdown of the plant’s 2017 production shows its employees assembled 130,582 X3s, 48,463 X4s, 155,324 X5s, and 36,915 units of the X6.

The total U.S. sales of the company’s X models for 2017 were 103,484, a less than 1 percent decrease compared with 103,943 in 2016

Steve Wilson, a spokesman for BMW Manufacturing Co., said the dip in production levels was due to the introduction of the company’s new X3 model in 2017 and renovations that shut down the plant’s X5/X6 assembly hall for a month.

Wilson said preparation for the company’s new X5 and other future models began in 2014 when BMW Group announced a $1 billion investment in the Spartanburg plant.

The three-year expansion project included the construction of a 1.2 million-square-foot body shop, an expansion of the plant’s X5/X6 assembly hall by 200,000 square feet, and a 100,000-square-foot expansion of logistics. The body shop houses about 2,000 robots that will build all of the plant’s X models, including the new X5, Wilson said.

BMW 2019 X5. Photo provided.

More recently, BMW announced its plans to invest $600 million in the Spartanburg plant and create 1,000 jobs between 2018 and 2021. The investment includes an expansion of the X3/X4 assembly hall to house production of the new X5 beginning in 2019.

“Global demand for the new X5 is forecast to be very strong. … This [expansion] will allow the new X5 to be built in both assembly halls,” Wilson said.

BMW has sold more than 2.2 million X5s since introducing the model in 1999, with about one-third of those deliveries happening in the United States. The company’s Spartanburg plant has produced more than 76,000 X5s in 2018 so far.

Production of the new X5 is expected to begin in August, according to Wilson. Pricing and fuel economy figures will likely be announced closer to the start of sales date in November.

While the company’s new X5 is expected to look similar to the model it replaces, it will be “significantly larger than its predecessor” with extra passenger and cargo room, according to a news release. It will also come standard with subtle design changes, advanced safety systems, off-road comfort controls, and numerous high-tech components.

The vehicle’s dashboard, for instance, will feature a 12.3-inch digital display that runs the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. Users will be able to interact with the screen via a control knob on the center console, through the touch screen, by using a “table-like touch surface,” or by using gestures, similar to the BMW 5 and 7 series sedans.

Photo provided.

Standard luxury features in the X5 will include a four-zone climate control system, heated front seats, ambient lighting, and a panoramic glass roof. Optional features include cooled and massaging front seats, remote engine start, and heated and cooled cup holders.

A bundle of digital services including remote services, concierge services, and real-time traffic information will come standard on the new X5 for four years.

The optional off-road package, which is being offered for the first time in a BMW X model, includes underbody protection at the front and rear, a two-axle air-suspension system that self-levels automatically for riding comfort, and an anti-spin rear-wheel differential lock that provides differing grip for the left and right back wheels, the release said.

All the new X5s will include various safety features, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, front and rear collision warnings, pedestrian monitoring, and city collision mitigation. Optional safety features include traffic jam assist, lane keeping assist, automatic lane changing, and collision evasion aid with steering assist.

The 2019 X5 will initially be available in two variants – xDrive 40i and xDrive 50i.

The X5 xDrive 40i uses a turbocharged 3.0L inline-six engine that can hit 60 mph in 5.3 seconds with a top speed as high as 150 mph, according to a new release.

The X5 xDrive 50i uses an updated version of BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 that can hit 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph.

Both engines use BMW’s all-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic transmission, which has been updated to improve fuel efficiency.

“The BMW X5 embodies the origins of the BMW X family and, in its fourth generation, sends out its most powerful message yet in terms of presence and modernity,” Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president at BMW Group Design, said in a statement. “It defines a new X design language – robust, clear and precise.”

For more information, visit bmwusfactory.com.

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