Dreaming about a trip to Europe? The road to a budget-friendly, fun-filled European vacation might be the European auto delivery program.
A handful of luxury auto makers—BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Audi and Porsche—offer a special program where you can pick up your car at its factory in Europe, then drive it for up to two weeks with your insurance covered. Think of it as the ultimate road trip.
I don’t want to steer anyone wrong. There are bumps in the road with European auto delivery for the average consumer. However, if you’ve been fantasizing about traveling to Europe, picking up your car there might give you a good excuse to start mapping out your European vacation.
Start your engines
European auto delivery isn’t that tough to navigate. First stop: your local dealer, who will coordinate the entire purchase for you. Alexander Ilic handles many of the European auto delivery sales, around 20-30 cars per year on average, for Fields BMW in Northfield. “It’s definitely the lowest price you’ll be able to get on a BMW,” Ilic says. “You save about 7 percent off the base price, and it’s a set price, so there’s no negotiating, which some customers really appreciate. You also get to drive the car for two weeks through Europe with the insurance covered. So, you can take a driving trip through Europe without having to rent a car. Then drop off the car at any of 18 different drop-off locations throughout Europe, free of charge. The only country where you’ll have to pay a drop-off fee is Italy.”
Ilic considers picking up the car at the BMW factory and museum in Munich to be one of the perks. “They give you the red carpet treatment, putting your name up in lights, then walking you down this grand staircase to see your car up on this rotating turnstile. Then you get to drive your new car on the autobahn and have the European adventure of your dreams.”
Sounds wunderbar, huh? Not so fast. European auto delivery also comes with a few inconveniences. “This is not for everybody,” Ilic says. “If you’re trading in a car, you need to turn in that car when you close on the purchase, a few weeks before traveling, and the new BMW doesn’t come back from Europe with you. It takes up to two months for the car to be shipped back to your dealer in the U.S. Meanwhile, you need to pay for the car up front and make a couple monthly car payments before receiving the car in the U.S.”
If European auto delivery still sounds like a good option, each of the luxury automakers has its own restrictions and incentives. The Swedes offer the sweetest deal: two round trip tickets to Scandinavia, airport pick-up and a free night at a first-class hotel in Gothenburg, if you buy a Volvo.
Ira Gordon participated in the overseas delivery program through Fields Volvo. “It was fantastic!” she says. “We drove the car in Europe for five weeks without any problems. We just had to pay the cost of extending the two weeks of car insurance. We visited Sweden, Poland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark. Volvo picked us up at the airport in Gothenburg, arranged for our hotel, drove us to the factory for our delivery and returned us to the airport for our return trip to the U.S.”
“Mercedes-Benz was the first luxury automaker to offer European auto delivery,” says Oleg Shmuylovskiy, senior sales representative at Autohaus on Edens. “Mercedes saw early on that the whole process encourages customer loyalty. Picking up your car at the factory center in Stuttgart, seeing how the car is made and then touring the magnificent Mercedes-Benz Museum is a very unique and memorable experience. Mercedes also provides you with taxi vouchers to and from the delivery center, an overnight stay at a luxury hotel in Stuttgart, and assistance in planning your travel itinerary through Germany’s Black Forest and the Austrian Alps, even setting up your hotel reservations.”
Is European auto delivery for you? You’re in the driver’s seat—contact your local car dealer for all the details. Maybe you’ll decide to say au revoir to your old car and bon jour to the European vacation of your dreams.