In terms of the degree of pain and patience involved, many people consider buying a new car to be somewhere between a visit to the dentist and waiting in line at the DMV. But thanks to the European delivery programs offered by a handful of luxury brands, car dealerships don’t have to be the intimidating places many of us make them out to be.
In fact, they can be the first step toward creating a dream vacation, centered around both your spirit of adventure and having keys to a brand-new ride in your pocket.
Granted, the idea of traveling thousands of miles to pick up something that can, quite literally, be delivered directly to your front door sounds uniquely quaint, or downright old-fashioned. Yet the travel rewards involved in these programs—not to mention actual cost-saving benefits—make the idea of visiting your car’s “birthplace” a tempting proposition.
Airline travel vouchers, complimentary guided museum and factory tours, airport transfers and hotel shuttles, free insurance while traveling in Europe, along with a free night of lodging ahead of your car’s official delivery date are some of the benefits provided in these European delivery programs.
Savings off the vehicle’s retail price can vary from 5 to 7 percent, depending on the company and vehicle being purchased. Shipping the car back to the United States is also free of charge and, in all cases, can be done at multiple locations from several countries.
BMW, for example, offers 12 different drop-off locations throughout Europe. Mercedes-Benz gives its European delivery customers a choice of 15. Audi bests both its German competitors, with 17 drop-off locations in total.
Once the car is back in the custody of the manufacturer, shipping back to the United States can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. This depends on the drop-off location and to which state it’s going (longer wait times are the general rule for West Coast–dwelling clientele).
Specifics vary from company to company, so it’s best to talk with a dealer and read the fine print when booking travel arrangements. However, each program offers the same basic structure and level of VIP hospitality when it comes to your arrival and the days before you meet your new car at the factory where it was built.
In some instances, the itinerary includes quirky details tied directly to the car’s heritage–lunch at the Volvo Factory Delivery Center in Gothenburg includes the option of dining on Swedish meatballs, of course.
According to Larissa Radicke, a sales supervisor with BMW North America, the best means of marketing these European delivery programs comes from customers who’ve experienced it for themselves. “The biggest factor is word of mouth—the ‘wow factor’ that comes from it,” she says. “It truly is one of those lifetime bucket-list experiences.”
While each automaker offers formal agendas and a list of specific vacation destinations, many clients have their own preset vacation ideas. “It really comes down to the customer,” explains Radicke, “but most tend to tailor their itinerary to themselves.”
She says BMW’s European delivery is particularly popular with the brand’s M Division customers, who want to enjoy their sport-tuned BMW on Germany’s world-famous autobahn—a road that, in certain sections, is famously free of speed limits.
Other travel options are available to anyone who doesn’t aspire to tear down a European road at triple-digit speeds during their getaway. Volvo offers travel arrangements centered around everything from playing a round of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland to touring castles and stately manor homes in Sweden, or scheduling a family-oriented visit to Legoland in Billund, Denmark.
“The possibilities are really endless,” says Diana Shaffer, manager of Overseas Delivery Sales for Volvo Car USA. “We do offer itineraries for customers to follow or, at the very least, spark an idea. Volvo Travel will help you to plan your Scandinavian/European dream vacation from start to finish.”