Production of BMW's upgraded 2011 X5 Facelift started earlier this week at its factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Set to debut at the 2010 New York Auto Show, the new X5 received numerous aesthetic and mechanical upgrades for the 2011 model year. Instead of the 4.8-liter V-8 engine, a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 found in the new 5-series, 7-series, and X6 was used.
In addition, the new N55 single-turbo 3.0-liter I-6 replaced the old twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6. Both engines will be mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Even with these upgrades, BMW considers the plant retooling to not be an intensive process. They say that it took just one weekend to switch from producing the last X5 to the new model.
On March 19, the last third-generation X5 rolled off the assembly line. It's no wonder that there was a smooth and efficient transition.
Preparations for the launch of the new X5 had begun over 18 months ago. Initially, the model transition had occurred "digitally." This meant that factory workers were being taught the new vehicle production processes right alongside the existing production line.
The outcome is that only the physical tooling and production equipment were needed to be changed since the workers have already become familiar with their new roles and tasks. The X5 will make its official debut at the New York show this March 31.