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      10-05-2010, 09:31 AM   #1
j1gzca
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NY Times article on Euro Delivery

1-series content...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/au...pagewanted=all


October 1, 2010
A BMW on the Trans-Atlantic Plan
By STEPHEN WILLIAMS


THE easy way to take delivery of my 2011 BMW 128i would have been to make a 45-minute train ride from my home in Queens to the dealership in Huntington, on Long Island. I chose the not-so-easy way: Queens to Huntington, via Munich.

In the end, picking up the BMW twice — first at the company’s cavernous delivery center in Munich and again five weeks later at the showroom where I had made the actual purchase — let me experience the emotional kicks of BMW’s European delivery program. Similar opportunities are offered by a handful of European automakers.

There are other, more rational advantages, of course: saving money is near the top of that list (though Porsche actually adds a fee for delivery in Europe). There are inconveniences as well, as I found in the course of my purchase.

American G.I.’s in postwar Europe may have been the first to take advantage of European deliveries, even before the carmakers had official programs. Servicemen who fell in love with the cars they drove overseas had them shipped home when their duty tours were completed.

It was in the 1960s that some Continental carmakers — Mercedes-Benz was among the first, along with BMW — began to see the marketing benefits of offering tourist delivery, along with some perks, to vacationing Americans. And buyers in the early years often found an advantage in the dollar’s strength against European currencies.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW were joined along the way by Porsche, Saab, Volkswagen and Volvo. More recently Audi introduced a program, while some have dropped out. Other companies, including Ferrari, will deliver a car in Europe, but have no formal plan.

My trip to Munich actually started early this year, when I began shopping for a new car. Even after narrowing my brand to BMW, a European delivery was not in consideration. But during a visit to Habberstad BMW in Huntington, my garrulous salesman, Howard Schulman, made the suggestion. We went to the calculator, and these cold, hard facts emerged:

• Window sticker price of the car, equipped to my specifications, shipped to Habberstad, including the destination fee: $35,250.

• Price as negotiated with Habberstad, delivered directly through the dealership: $33,700.

• European delivery price, including registration and insurance to drive in most European countries for 14 days and shipping to Habberstad: $31,695.

The savings shrink when a round-trip airline ticket to Germany (about $850) is added; hotels, the occasional schnitzel and cafe mit schlag also make a dent. No matter which course I took, New York State sales tax would apply.

“They’ll give you a free keychain,” Mr. Schulman said, sweetening the pot.

So here was an excuse to travel, and it would be nifty to take possession of a new German car in its homeland, before it had been soiled by seawater and touched by strangers’ hands at the port in Newark. Visions of autobahn motoring danced in my head.

As I learned, a major selling point for European deliveries is not so much the lower price, it’s the money saved by vacationers who drive their own car rather than paying for a rental. For example, renting an Audi A3 for a month in August from AutoEurope, picking it up and dropping it off in Munich, with full insurance and unlimited mileage, is typically more than $1,800.

Most Americans use their new vehicles for touring the Continent for several weeks. “Many of our customers are travel-savvy,” said Simone Zaccardi of BMW North America, who works with American customers on European sales. She said a third of her clients were repeat customers.

With a $1,000 deposit, the order was made in early May, and a delivery date tentatively set for late June. Full payment would have to be made 14 days before the delivery date. Any promotional financing rates from BMW in effect at that time would be applied then.

I ordered my 128i in Jet Black with a beige leather interior and options including wood trim inside, high-intensity discharge headlamps and an upgrade to a Harman Kardon audio system.

Mr. Schulman informed me that changes could be made until the car reached Status 150, BMW jargon for “no more changes, it’s in the production pipeline.”

Two weeks later BMW’s European delivery service in New Jersey sent a fat information packet, spelling out touring options for me to consider. That was followed by an e-mail confirming the date and time for pickup — June 29 at 2:20 p.m. at BMW Welt (German for world), the corporate fantasyland-theme park that doubles as a delivery center. I booked my flight and planned a night’s stay in Munich. The next morning I would take the U-bahn to the Olympic Stadium stop, just a discus toss from the delivery center.

But wait: stop the paint robots. On June 1, I decided my coupe needed to be white, not black.

Fortunately, although the car’s production week was already set in stone for the week of June 17 , it was still in Status 112. Changes were still possible, and Mr. Schulman graciously made them.

Later that day, walking near my home, I saw a 1 Series in Crimson Red. Wow. Red. Should I, could I? No. White it would be, with a Terracotta interior.

After a fitful night’s sleep in Munich I made my way to the Welt, where, I was told, from 70 to 160 cars are delivered each day, some 10 percent to Americans. Upstairs in the lounge, I was checked in by a hostess and handed a packet that contained all the registration and insurance forms (most in German) and a voucher good for 15 euros’ worth of lunch. And a keychain.

With time to spare, I hooked up with a tour of the factory, adjacent to Welt, that builds the 3 Series. Then, lunch in the International restaurant overlooking the Olympic stadium — and the voucher paid for most of it. I visited the gift shop, and seized by a need to buy something I bought a set of official BMW wheel brushes for 27 euros.

Then it was time to join my personal assistant.

Bernhard Hausmaninger and I met outside the lounge, he in a suit and tie, me in jeans but feeling photogenic nonetheless. Though this was his third delivery of the day, he greeted me with a wide smile, as though I’d traveled across the ocean just to meet him.

“I see people at their best,” he said, and he had seen many happy people in the 15 years he had spent delivering cars. Mr. Hausmaninger said he derived a good deal of satisfaction introducing people to their new BMWs.

Which is what he did with me. We spent about half an hour in a driving simulator, where I checked out the car’s operational features and drove on virtual ice to try out the traction control system. But by then I wanted out of virtual and into real.

We walked down a flight of stairs — I pictured myself as Vivien Leigh floating down the staircase at Tara in “Gone With the Wind” — to the white coupe spinning on a turntable. There was no music, but I imagined a waltz playing.

A couple of days later I dropped off the car at a facility about six miles north of the delivery center. I was warned to take one key and anything I’d put in the car (forget about shipping any luggage home in the trunk) except the owner’s manual, the tool kit and a first aid kit. I was told that the car would be picked up the next day and taken by truck to the port at Bremerhaven on the North Sea, in the north of Germany, where it would begin its lonely voyage, sans owner, to arrive in Newark in four to six weeks. So, auf weidersehen.

That was on July 1.

On July 30, the coupe arrived at the dealer. I arranged to take delivery on Aug. 9. Before then, I’d need to have my insurance company fax the dealer an insurance card effective that day.

There was one more question I asked Mr. Schulman: did the German license plates, M 3182-Z, survive the journey?

They did.

Pick-up day in the United States was like most others for new-car buyers. Mr. Schulman handed over a white 1 Series coupe with a full tank of gas and the second key — and, yes, another keychain.

So, what was irksome about the process? Certainly all the paperwork, the various visits to the dealership and the need to be firm with your travel plans (although pick-up dates can be rearranged if necessary). You also have to pay for the car in full upfront — and be prepared to make one or two loan payments even before it gets to the States.

What else did I learn? That next time, I’d plan further ahead, bring along the family and take advantage of the BMW in Europe.

And next time, the car will be Crimson Red.
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      10-05-2010, 01:24 PM   #2
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cool read. one of these days I'll do ED.
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      10-24-2010, 09:34 AM   #3
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good read. Always like to hear about ED experiences.
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      10-24-2010, 04:42 PM   #4
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Nice read.
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      10-25-2010, 08:24 AM   #5
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      10-25-2010, 09:14 AM   #6
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I picked up my then 335i at the Welt just in the 3rd week it had opened. Even though I don't have the car anymore, the memory is always with me. Truly one of the best experiences for a car enthusiast, I plan to do it again someday.
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      10-25-2010, 09:28 AM   #7
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Good article...although he didn't explain how awesome it was to open up his car on European roads etc...to me that was well worth the trip by itself.
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      10-25-2010, 10:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j1gzca View Post
And next time, the car will be Crimson Red.
Good review of the ED experience.

I did European Delivery one year ago and, at this time, was still enjoying every second of the drive through Germany! It is wonderful way to enjoy your new car and break it in on the autobahn, in its homeland...and I'd do it all over again in a minute.

BTW - I did order Crimson Red and love it!
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      10-25-2010, 03:25 PM   #9
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very cool story.
I will deff consider Euro delivery if and when i do get another BMW in the future.
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      10-26-2010, 11:51 AM   #10
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He had the same delivery specialist I got when I picked up my car.
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      11-01-2010, 06:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j1gzca View Post
So, what was irksome about the process? Certainly all the paperwork, the various visits to the dealership and the need to be firm with your travel plans (although pick-up dates can be rearranged if necessary). You also have to pay for the car in full upfront and be prepared to make one or two loan payments even before it gets to the States.
He means that he had to have financing done prior to pick up? Makes sense, but can you start payments before the ED pick up date?
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