Brian Hendry and his 2009 BMW 3 Series. Click image to enlarge
Article and photos by Brian Hendry
BMW’s European delivery experience
In the past, European Delivery Programs for Canadians were pretty much an afterthought for European automakers. Of the few that offered it, many required the buyer to arrange for their own importation and customs clearance of their new cars. Canadians were also denied European Delivery discounts which can range as high as 10 per cent for Americans. The net result was that Canadians wanting to participate in European Delivery programs often paid more for their cars and had far more headaches than if they just took delivery in Canada.
After several inquiries, I discovered that BMW was about to introduce a new European Delivery program for Canadians to bring it more in line with their American program. Since I was planning on working for the summer in Europe I thought, how great would it be to be driving around Europe in a brand new car which I would pick up right at the factory? Although my pocketbook didn’t completely share my enthusiasm, I knew this would be one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
BMW Welt (top), and the author’s car, centre of bottom photo. Click image to enlarge
Initially I was informed that the program wasn’t going to start until after the summer was over. I was persistent, however, and I was finally informed that I would be able to purchase my car through the European Delivery program even though it wasn’t officially launched yet. Ecstatic, I needed to place my order with the factory six weeks ahead of my scheduled delivery date so that they could complete the car in time. Seeing as though I was the first customer from Canada to use this program, there was some confusion and rushed paperwork back and forth. Fortunately I completed the paperwork just in time to allow me to pick the car up at the delivery centre in Munich.
The delivery centre, BMW Welt, is a truly remarkable building. More than a million visitors go through its doors annually just for the experience. Upon arrival I was greeted by a customer service representative who helped me plan my visit to the centre. Here you can sign up for a guided tour of the factory as well as the BMW museum across the road. Customers also get gift certificates for the BMW Lifestyles store and one of the restaurants as well. Drinks, snacks, and internet access are also complimentary in the Delivery Lounge as well. After strolling through the Museum and having a nice meal, my own delivery agent took me to the Product Information Centre where a virtual rendition of my car was displayed. The agent then briefed me on the car’s features and took me on a virtual test drive.
The author’s 3 Series. Click image to enlarge
Then it was on to the delivery floor: as you walk down a winding staircase, the delivery agent taps his PDA, and a spotlight highlights your car as it begins to spin on the platform. That’s just about where my face contorted into a permanent smile. The agent then goes through a few more features of your car, a photo is taken, and then you drive it out of the building. A very cool experience indeed!
Driving your own car through Europe is an unbelievable experience as well. The car was absolutely stable on the autobahn and was more fun than a barrel of monkeys on the twisty mountain passes as well. I found myself using any excuse I could to take the car out for a drive.
All in all, the experience was amazing, but unlike the American programs, the Canadian program didn’t save me any money. In Canada, there is no significant European Delivery discount on the MSRP, but in the U.S., BMW and Mercedes offer up to seven per cent discount while Volvo discounts can be more. As well, in the U.S., Mercedes waives the Destination charge for U.S. buyers, offers them a two-for-one voucher from Lufthansa to fly to Germany, and a free hotel night. In Canada, only Volvo offers free airfare for two to Sweden and a free hotel night. However, most European automakers do pay for the shipping and import duties to Canada.
As well, Canadian MSRPs seem grossly overpriced, in my opinion. I did save on rental cars while over there but customers have to wait six to eight weeks before their car is delivered to Canada. BMW offset that in my case by not beginning payments until almost a month after getting the car in Europe, but I still had to wait a full eight weeks before I received my car!
So you have to take the good with the bad with Canadian European Delivery programs.
Would I do it again? Just as soon as this smile leaves my face!