How would you like a free trip to Europe? If you are thinking of buying a German or Swedish car, consider taking delivery of the car at the auto maker's factory, and the savings could pay for your trip. Several auto makers not only promise hefty discounts on the price of the car, they thow other goodies into the deal, from a night's stay at a luxury hotel to roundtrip airfare for two from the U.S. The automakers - Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volvo - offer such perks because they have learned that European delivery programs build brand loyalty. When customers pick up their cars, they receive VIP treatment that includes escorted tours of the factories.
So how much can you save? Using a couple of Audi sedans as examples, around $1,600 on an A4 to some $3700 on an A8. The more expensive the car, the more you'll save. Here are some specifics:
- Audi gives a five percent discount off most models' MSRP, plus one night's hotel stay and a meal at the automaker's restaurant on delivery day.
- BMW gives seven percent off MSRP, plus two-for-one airfare on Lufthansa and a meal.
- Mercedes-Benz gives seven percent off MSRP, two-for-one airfare on Lufthansa, one night's hotel stay and a meal.
- Porsche offers no factory discount but it does give one night's hotel stay and lunch at the factory dining room.
- Volvo gives eight percent off MSRP, airfare for two on Scandinavian Arilines, one night's hotel stay and a meal.
Make the trip a vacation, and with your own car, you avoid the costs of rental cars and ground transportation while you travel Europe. Each automaker provides temporary European registration, car insurance for two weeks or more, shipping to the U.S., and U.S. Customs and port clearance, all at no extra charge. You then pick up your car at the local dealer after it arrives in the U.S.
And the catch? Expect to initiate the process two to four months before your trip to Europe. And once you've finished your European excursion, expect another two months or so before you can fetch the car from your local dealer. You'll also have to time your delivery to avoid factory holidays - Europeans tend to take a lot of them.
Source: "Buying a Car in Europe", by Peter Bohr, AAA World magazine (March / April 2010)