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Overseas Delivery Programs For Cars

Sep 1, 2011
2011 / September 2011




Volvo Car Corporation

In 1964 I flew with my cousin, Rick, to Göteborg, Sweden, to pick up his first car: a new red Volvo S122 with four doors, twin carbs (tvilling carbureators in Swedish) and four-on-the-floor. The purchase price, under Volvo’s relatively new overseas delivery program, was $2,100. After driving around Europe for several weeks, Rick dropped me off in Paris, where I rented a tiny Citroën 2-CV for the rest of my two-month trip. My cousin returned his new Volvo to Göteborg so the auto manufacturer could arrange delivery to the States.

My cousin’s new Volvo was inexpensive, even in those days (like buying a new car today for $13,800, based on the consumer price index), and the hundreds of dollars saved by picking up the car at Volvo’s Swedish manufacturing facility more than paid for his time in Europe, including the airfare. At the time, he was the only person I knew who had arranged to pick up a new car in Europe, and I was terribly jealous that he was also able to drive the Volvo in the United States for many years afterwards.

Today, several thousand Americans fly to Europe and Scandinavia every year to pick up new cars at modern automobile manufacturing welcome centers, taking advantage of travel perks and amenities that were not offered in previous years. The new car owners usually drive their new automobiles around the Continent for a few weeks before flying back to the United States, leaving their vehicle in the custody of a licensed shipping agent for the car company, who wraps the new “baby” in a protective cover before placing it on a huge car-carrying ship for the trans-Atlantic voyage.

We’ve compiled a list of of some of the European and Scandinavian auto manufacturers that offer overseas delivery programs for customers purchasing new cars. For new car buyers wishing to tour Europe in their own automobiles and who are thinking of purchasing a BMW, Volvo or Mercedes, the travel benefits and cost savings of an overseas delivery program can be substantial, and the experience of spending several weeks in Europe with your significant other is, well, priceless.

Audi (www.audiusa.com) launched its European delivery program in October 2006. Typically, Audi dealers will provide about a 3–5 percent discount off the manufacturers’ suggested retail price, depending on the model purchased, with the final selling price determined by the U.S. dealer. The company will also provide one night’s lodging, some meals, airport pick-up and 15 days of insurance coverage while you drive your new vehicle in Europe. If you remain in Europe with the car more than 90 days, Audi will not be able to refund the European value-added tax, may not be able to offer a shipping discount and will need to charge the buyer for extended insurance coverage. American customers can expect to wait about eight to 10 weeks for delivery after leaving the car at one of Audi’s 14 drop-off locations in Europe. The company says that about half of its European delivery customers are first-time Audi buyers who may not have decided to buy an Audi if not for the program and its associated amenities.

The company suggests visiting an Audi dealer about three to four months prior to your trip and ordering the vehicle of your choice. The model you select will be built about 60 days after you place the order, and the company will provide an estimated European delivery date. Audi will also collect copies of passports for all family members who are making the trip to Germany and copies of drivers’ licenses of those who will be taking the wheel. Audi offers buyers a chauffeured transfer from Munich Airport to either the customer center of the Audi Forum at Ingolstadt or to a nearby hotel where complimentary accommodations are provided. On pick-up day, buyers at the Audi Forum may opt to tour the factory and Audi Museum.

Customers purchasing a new BMW (www.bmwusa.com/europeandelivery) under its European delivery program also may realize significant savings off the MSRP, often about 7 percent, by picking up their new automobile at BMW Welt near Munich. The amenities include a factory tour and BMW Museum visit. The company also provides comprehensive insurance for 14 days of driving in Europe, with additional coverage available at the buyer’s expense. If your model is equipped with an onboard navigation system, it will be programmed to guide the driver through most European cities.

BMW includes the cost of shipping the vehicle back to the United States, customs clearance, duty and marine insurance in the purchase price of all BMWs sold under its European delivery program. Shipping time is approximately six to eight weeks to East Coast dealers, and eight to 10 weeks to the West Coast. The company offers pre-planned European driving itineraries and an arrangement with Lufthansa, which offers a “buy one ticket, receive one free” deal (excluding taxes and fees) for passengers picking up BMWs in Europe.

“We have been offering our European delivery program since the 1980s,” said Stacy Morris, a BMW spokesperson. “About 2,000 customers per year choose to pick up their new cars in Europe, and the majority of EDP sales is from the 3-series, followed by the 5-series.”

It’s important to note that only vehicles manufactured overseas are eligible for BMW’s European delivery program, which rules out its X3, X5 and X6 models built in the company’s Spartanburg, S.C., facility. BMW motorcycles, manufactured in Berlin, aren’t eligible, either.

Tony and Mary Szurly of Bergen County, N.J., picked up their new Z4 301i two-seat convertible roadster in May 2010 and spent two weeks driving it throughout Europe. “The folks at BMW Welt truly make you feel special. A nice touch is how they have your car revolving on a lit turntable when you take delivery, and you get to drive a lap around the Welt track, often with other BMW owners watching and clapping. The cost savings are nice, but the real thrill comes from driving your car on the roads for which it was designed,” Szurly said.

Mercedes-Benz (www.mbusa.com) was one of the first German manufacturers to offer the European delivery program, and its popular current version offers plenty of nice amenities. The company offers 7 percent off MSRP, one night’s accommodation in one of 14 deluxe hotels, breakfast or lunch at the company’s Sindelfingen Delivery Center’s restaurant, tickets to the Mercedes-Benz Museum and a full tank of gas in your new vehicle. The cost of the car also includes return shipping to a U.S. dealer, additional marine insurance, customs duty and clearance charges, port handling fees and up to 15 days of insurance coverage in Europe. New car customers can use the car in Europe for up to one year by buying additional auto insurance.

Customers ordering a Porsche (www.porsche.com) choose between the Zuffenhausen New Car Delivery Center near Stuttgart (for sports car models) and the Leipzig factory Welcome Center (for Cayenne and Carrera GT models). Processing your order under the Porsche European delivery program begins at a dealer in the United States or Canada, where you choose a model and arrange payment, and the dealer contacts Porsche Cars of North America to begin the delivery paperwork. Depending on the pickup location, buyers will visit the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen
or tour the high-tech manufacturing facility in Leipzig, where the first Cayenne was developed. Buyers in Leipzig can also experience driving on the Porsche FIA-compliant test track as well as the off-road circuit. After lunch in Porsche’s VIP dining room, a Porsche delivery consultant presents your just-off-the-assemblyline Porsche.

The Porsche European delivery program includes free taxi transfer from the airport to either of the Porsche manufacturing plants, one night’s hotel accommodation, 16 days of full car insurance in Europe, shipment of the automobile to North America (free if dropped off in Stuttgart, additional charges for other city drop-offs), shipping insurance and assistance with a European travel itinerary. Unlike other overseas programs, there is no discount of the MSRP; and a small fee, depending on the model purchased, is tacked on to the overall cost of the delivery process.

The overseas delivery program at Volvo (www.volvocars.com/us), started in 1956, has delivered more than 300,000 vehicles to tourists, diplomats and U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. Volvo’s program includes two complimentary, round-trip flights to Göteborg, Sweden, including access to the SAS business-class lounges at U.S. airports, and one night’s accommodation at a hotel in Göteborg, the city where buyers pick up their new cars. These amenities are only provided to buyers under Volvo’s tourist program and do not include buyers affiliated with Volvo’s military, diplomat or expatriate programs.

Customers at the Göteborg delivery center may also opt for a test drive on the private Volvo track and a tour of the Volvo factory. In addition to Göteborg, Volvo operates 15 other customer pick-up points within Europe, but additional fees apply. Likewise, shipping the new car back to the United States is free from Göteborg, but a fee applies if the car is left at one of the other drop-off locations in Europe.

Volvo buyers can order their new cars through a local dealer or by contacting a designated overseas delivery program representative (www.flyvolvo.com) who handles the orders, prepares all the paperwork and arranges for delivery of the vehicle to the customer’s nearest U.S. Volvo dealer.

“My wife Brigitte and I really enjoyed picking up our car in Sweden and then driving it through Germany and Luxembourg,” said Eddie Lee of Colorado Springs, Colo., who picked up a new XC90 SUV in August 2010. “We saved about 10–12 percent off the cost of the car, which was several thousand dollars we could apply to hotels and food in Europe.”

New car buyers interested in purchasing a Ferrai (www.ferrari.com) or Maserati (www.maserati.us) with pick-up in Italy can contact U.S. dealers for European delivery information, prices and amenities.


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