Many European automobile manufacturers have programs where you can pick up your new car in its home country, then spend some time testing out your wheels on European roads. These programs are well-established and usually allow you to follow an itinerary set by the manufacturer, or explore on your own. When you’re all done traveling, you leave the car at a pre-determined drop-off point, and the car is shipped to the United States.
Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo all offer European delivery programs. In most cases, if you participate in a Euro delivery program you’ll enjoy a pretty substantial discount (up to 7% off the MSRP). The cost for shipping the car to the U.S. is covered by the program, as is two weeks’ worth of auto insurance while you’re in Europe (and if you want to stay longer, you can buy more insurance). Depending on the manufacturer, some travel expenses (airfare, hotel stays, etc.) and travel perks are included.
Is European delivery a good idea?
If you’re planning to buy a new Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, or Volvo, and you have a little free time, we think it’s a fabulous idea. Discounted car + fun European vacation … what’s not to like? To get a first-hand look, we talked with one of our co-workers, Kevin, who purchased his beloved 2011 BMW M3 a few years ago through a European delivery program. Here’s what he had to say.
Where did you pick up your car, and what was the experience like?
My fiancée and I flew into Munich, Germany and picked up the car at the BMW Welt (BMW’s delivery center and museum) and it was an amazing experience. It’s a great way to buy and experience the vehicle. We flew in on a Saturday and went directly to the BMW Welt. They have all sorts of services for travelers there (lounge, showers, a café, a bar, shopping, etc.) and the BMW Museum, which has beautiful displays including more than a hundred cars and motorcycles from throughout the company’s history. People from all over the world are there to pick up their cars, so there’s a lot of excitement in the air.
The actual delivery of the car was one of the coolest things. We were up in the café having a snack when the concierge arrived to tell us that our car was ready. The building is a work of art and very open, so from the café in the upper level you overlook the main hall of the museum and the delivery platform. The platform has several rotating turntables, one for each car being delivered. When you first go down to see your new car, they light it up with spotlights as it rotates, so you can see it from every angle. They walk you through all the highlights of your vehicle. After that, we got in and our delivery person asked us to rev the engine. The sound reverberated through the whole museum. Then we drove it off the platform and out of the building.
What did you do once you left the BMW Welt?
Ever since I first heard about this program, I had wanted to do it so I could drive the car on some of these iconic European roads and visit the BMW Museum. I also wanted to drive at the Nürburgring Racetrack in Germany, but we saved that for another time. We visited Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, drove through Switzerland, saw the submerged church at Curon Venosta in Italy (where we stayed at an amazing hotel), drove through Stelvio Pass (one of the greatest driving roads of the world – it’s the second highest pass in the Alps, with 48 insane hairpin turns), went into Austria where we visited Salzburg and Vienna (one of the coolest places in the world, with unbelievable food), then drove into the Czech Republic to Prague. A lot of the time I felt like we were in a car commercial – the fog, the forest, the mountains, the switchbacks, the tunnels – it was truly a joy for all the senses. All told, we put about 2200 miles on the car in 9 or 10 days before we dropped it off in Munich. Then about three weeks later, the car arrived in the U.S. and we picked it up at the BMW dealership.
Did you get to keep your European plates?
Yes – I took them off the car when we dropped it off. I think you can ask your U.S. dealer for them, but I’ve heard that doesn’t always work.
Any tips for people who are thinking of trying European delivery?
First, if you’re considering it, definitely do it! I plan to do it again as soon as I possibly can.
Second, plan ahead and allow yourself enough time to do all the things you want to do. We focused on the drive and highlighted certain roadways, cities, and restaurants. By the time we got to Prague, our last stop before going back to Munich, we were so tired that all we wanted to do was sleep, which was a shame.
For more information on European delivery, check out these links: