Get a New Car Using a European
Tommy Taneff met his new Porsche, a 911 coupe, last February in Stuttgart, Germany. Taneff had taken advantage of Porsche’s European delivery program to pick up his new crush—the tenth Porsche he has owned—at the factory where it was built. He and a friend then drove to Vienna and Budapest before heading home, where his car was shipped to him gratis. "To be driving that car through the Alps and on the Autobahn, where there's no speed limit, is exhilarating. It was the experience of a lifetime."
You don't have to be a Porsche enthusiast to take advantage of a European delivery program. All of the major European brands except Volkswagen offer a similar program. "If you're planning a vacation abroad, these programs are a very, very good deal," says Jeremy Anwyl, vice-chairman of Edmunds.com. When you pick up a car across the Atlantic, you get a discount off the sticker price, save on rental-car costs and get a free night’s stay at a luxury hotel.
How it works. For all the European delivery programs, you order your car from the dealer three or four months before you want to pick it up. Prices are typically set at discounts of 3% to 8% off the U.S. sticker price. Then you plan your vacation; you can fly into the city where you’re picking up the vehicle or make it a stop along your route. You'll be provided with two weeks of car insurance, but you can pay extra for longer stays.
When you arrive, you'll be picked up at the airport and transported to a hotel, where you’ll be treated to a complimentary night's stay. The next day, you will visit the delivery center to claim your car and take a tour of the factory and the automaker’s museum. Hit the road for your vacation and, when you're done, drop the car off at one of several locations and it’ll be shipped back to the States for you.
Perks and pitfalls. Volvo provides the best perk: free round-trip airfare for two on Scandinavian Airlines. There's a $150 surcharge per person from June through August, but it's a drop in the bucket compared with what you'll save. Both Volvo and Mercedes–Benz waive the U.S. destination fee, saving you nearly $900 on the car itself.
Pick up your Porsche at the Leipzig factory and you’ll get a driving experience customized for your car—track time for 911, Cayman, Boxster and Panamera models and an off-road course for the Cayenne. Porsche is the only program that lets you negotiate the vehicle price just as you would for a regular purchase, which may save you even more. (For details on the programs, see our slide show.)
No matter which brand you pick, shipping the car back to the U.S. takes about two months. And not all Euro vehicles are available for European delivery. If the car is built in the U.S.—like BMW’s crossovers and most Mercedes crossovers—it's not on the menu.
Want to drive in winter or through the Alps when there's snow in the mountain passes? Many European countries' laws require tires that can handle wintry weather. If you order your car with all-season tires, you should be fine, but if you plan to travel in the winter, check your itinerary with the program. Porsche provides complimentary tires (for two weeks). BMW and Volvo rent winter tires, but Audi and Mercedes require you to equip your car with all-season tires if you’re taking delivery from November to early spring.
Be prepared to pony up a steep tax if you keep the car in Europe too long. For German makes, you'll pay a value-added tax of 19% of the MSRP if the car is not shipped to the States before your insurance period is up (three to 12 months, depending on the program). You can stay six months in Scandinavia (or two months on the mainland) with a new Volvo, but after that you’ll owe taxes of 25% of the MSRP.