01 of 06
Vacation in Europe and Get a New Car in the Bargain
A European honeymoon or vacation becomes even more romantic when a couple can take delivery of their brand-new car at the factory overseas.
In fact, couples can save enough money with European delivery programs (“EDP” for short) that the trip where they tour the countryside in their new car is in effect free.
To start the process, place your order for European delivery through an authorized dealer in the US or Canada. (Any car destined for North America will be configured to meet emission standards.)
In addition to a no-haggle discount of five to eight percent off the manufacturer’s suggested purchase price, car makers throw in overseas travel perks and freebies. (With any European delivery program, you’ll need to stay 10 days minimum for valid European registration and license plates, insurance, and taxes.)
Vacation enhancers include free hotel stays, meals, insurance, even round-trip airfare. Perks that can add up to as much as $5,000 certainly help defray the cost of a trip, avoid expensive European rental car costs, and lessen the sting of the weak dollar overseas.
The downside? You’ll have to pay in full for the vehicle before you pick it up at the factory overseas -- although some U. S. dealers will arrange financing. Also, while some European delivery centers are open Saturdays, drop-off facilities are not, so plan your excursion to return the car on a weekday.
Couples are reunited with cars at their local dealership 6 to 8 weeks after saying goodbye in Europe. That’s another upside: European delivery programs mean you get to welcome your new car not once, but twice.
Nearly all makers of European cars, including Porsche and Saab, have delivery programs.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
Audi European Delivery Programs
Virtually all Audi cars are available for European delivery at Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, about one hour from Munich.
Customers pay their airfare to Germany, then Audi picks them up at the Munich airport and transports them to a four-star hotel near headquarters for a free overnight stay. There’s also a free guided tour of Audi Forum and Museum.
Audi provides 15 days of insurance, including 24/7 roadside assistance, and there are 20 authorized locations in Europe, including six in Germany, where owners can drop off cars at no charge to be shipped back to the U. S.
Once you're behind the wheel of your new Audi, head for Ingolstadt's old city, a medieval walled fortress on the bank of the Danube, complete with a 13th century castle.
If you'd like to explore the north, point the car toward Augsburg, founded in 15 B.C. by stepsons of Augustus Caesar. In this bite-sized version of Munich couples find bustling nightlife, an open-air theater, a Roman Museum, and another dedicated to native son, the writer Berthold Brecht.
Alternately, head south to the Chiemsee, Bavaria’s largest lake, for biking, hiking, sailing, and strolling. Not to be missed are two of King Ludwig II’s ornate castles. Herreninsel sits on an island in the middle of the lake, accessible by regular shuttle boats. Surrounding Schloss Herrenchiemsee castle, the gardens are as lavish as the gilded halls.
Audi also offers pre-set touring itineraries(prices vary): Its two-night Castles and High Tech itinerary includes Bavarian King Ludwig’s Neueschwanstein, the model for Disney’s “Cinderella” castle. Another program includes two rounds of golf per person at the five-star Hotel Sonnenalp in the picturesque Alpine village of Ofterschwang and use of the resort’s mineral baths.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
BMW European Delivery Programs
BMW European Delivery Programs begin in Munich, couples can drive from there to some of the most romantic destinations in Europe in their new car.
At BMW's European campus, there is a special section for customers taking delivery of new cars that offers snacks, Web access, and the chance to chat with other couples awaiting delivery of new BMW sedans, coupes, or convertible cars.
A concierge can arrange free guided tours of the factory and BMW Museum, where rare vintage cars are showcased. Other galleries trace the evolution of popular models and peek into the future of alternative fuels. Adjacent to the museum, BMW World contains current models, restaurants, shops, and displays.
Customers are offered a choice of Driving Adventures itineraries though Valerie Wilson Travel, which takes care of all the details, including booking flights and hotels and arranging drop-off in the last city.
Itinerary 1, Lakeshore Luxury, goes from Munich to Milan, via Lucerne and the famed Gotthard Pass, to Lake Como. It’s a route scattered with historic villas, museums, and picture-postcard drives.
Itinerary 2, Alpine Getaway, sends your BMW into the Bernese Oberland, with a night at the magnificent Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel. Nearby hiking trails are dotted with cafes that invite lingering at sunset. This itinerary finishes in Lausanne, on scenic Lake Geneva.
Itinerary 3, Mozart and Castles, ends up in Vienna after Salzburg and Prague in the Czech Republic. Toast your good fortune at a Vienna café over steaming coffee and Sacher tortes.
Dropping off your new BMW in Munich, Lausanne, or Vienna is included in the car's European Delivery price. Then it’s a 6-8 week wait for the Beemer to arrive home.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
Mercedes European Delivery Programs
Mercedes-Benz has been arranging European delivery of cars since 1964, and has sold well over 100,000 to North Americans this way.
The company offers a generous 7 percent off MSRP, a variety of leasing and financing options, and 15-day zero-deductible insurance.
For buyers Mercedes often can arrange discounts of up to 30 percent off international flights, although not during peak summer travel season.
European delivery includes pick-up in Stuttgart, transportation to the factory, and an overnight at a nearby hotel.
Add time to visit the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, which traces the history of the automobile from Gottlieb Daimler’s 1888 horseless carriage through years of partnership with Karl Benz, Rudolph Diesel, and, more recently Chrysler, with stops in between for the likes of a 1939 Silver Arrow and a Popemobile.
The most photographed car is the iconic 1950s red 300SL Gullwing. A motorsports section includes Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1956 Grand Prix winner and a Formula One Mercedes-McClaren.
Stuttgart is an all-business city, except in fall, when it is home to Germany’s second largest Oktoberfest. Each brewery has its own tent, and can hold as many as 5,000 thirsty people.
Ludwigsburg, with a beautiful baroque castle that has more than 400 rooms and the world’s first theater with a revolving stage, is just outside town.
Or opt for a Black Forest-Alps Rally Package (fee). Its four-night itinerary weaves through spectacular Alpine scenery and the famous spa at Baden-Baden. You’ll drive over the Arlberg Pass into Austria, including to St. Anton, a mountain resort favored by celebrities.
This package includes a final night in Munich’s Bayerischer Hof, where the keys can be simply dropped off at the reception desk on your way to the airport and home.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Volvo European Delivery Programs
The Volvo cars program has been operating since the 1950s, delivering some 300,000 vehicles. About 8,000 current models plus unsold ones from the previous year are taken annually for European delivery.
As an incentive to buyers, Volvo offers two complimentary economy round-trip SAS flights to Europe, with access to SAS Business Class lounges in the U.S., plus one night at the classy Radisson SAS hotel in Gothenburg.
The Factory Delivery Center is open weekdays, as is Volvo’s own test track. EDP participants are permitted to take a few laps around the track to familiarize themselves with their new car before heading out into traffic.
Buyers may pick up or drop off the car almost anywhere in Europe. Doing so at Volvo in Gothenburg is free; pick-up or drop off elsewhere in Europe ranges from $300 to more than $1,000, depending on the city. But why add on the expense, when there’s plenty to see and do around Gothenburg?
If you haven’t already gotten your wedding registry crystal, visit the nearby factories of Orrefors, Kosta, Boda, and other manufacturers, where you can watch goblets and art glass being made. Just try to resist buying out their huge factory stores.
Drive to Kalmar, a medieval walled city with a moated castle and cobblestone streets. Head north across one of the longest bridges in Europe to the island of Oland, dotted with windmills, farms, grazing sheep, and the ruins of Borgholm Castle, which dates to the 1300s.
In winter, steer your new Volvo further north to the world-famous Icehotel and snuggle under animal skin blankets before or after dogsledding or cross-country skiing.
Volvo has a dedicated EDP customer service representative (800-631-1667) and an in-house corporate travel agency (800-730-3555) to arrange SAS flights for Volvo buyers planning European delivery.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Bentley European Delivery Programs
Bentley produces only bespoke vehicles, and its European delivery program operates the same way: everything is customized.
Most visitors to the Bentley factory in Crewe, near Manchester, England, already have placed their order with a U.S. dealer.
The visit is more to experience the Mulliner workshop, home of custom coach building.
Whatever you can imagine and afford, they can do: From monogrammed seats for each family member (as were ordered by soccer star David Beckham and wife Victoria), to a custom color that matches your eyes. The only Bentley color that customers may not order is Royal Claret; it is reserved for Queen Elizabeth II.
A new sedan or convertible can require a year's wait, longer for Mulliner customization. It takes time to hand-match and install the wood veneers and leathers for the interior, and hand-polish multiple coats of paint.
As J. P. Morgan once said regarding the price of his yacht, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” So it is with Bentley, which does not offer a discount for European delivery.
Guests usually are hosted overnight at the charming Crewe Hall Hotel, and a Bentley employee can assist with flight and local touring arrangements.
Bentley picks customers up at the Manchester airport. There’s also a small museum, mostly of early Bentley racecars.
There is ample reason to tour nearby. The nearest town of size is Chester, a walled city whose town center contains Tudor-style timber buildings dating to the 1200s. This was a Roman outpost, and a huge amphitheater is steps from the center of downtown, as is a small museum of Roman artifacts.
Stay at the five-star Chester Grosvenor. Its large, well-appointed rooms will cosset you almost as much as your new Bentley.