Making your next car purchase an adventure
By Luke Connell
European road trip
Your sedan climbs the serpentine roads that lead to the Zugspitze, where 400 Alpine peaks form the borders of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. You steer around the tight corners of cobbled streets of Bruges, Belgium. You glide through the Dutch countryside, a mural of windmills lazily reeling outside the passenger window.
Memories of this trip will linger for a lifetime, so shouldn’t you also bring home the ultimate souvenir?
If you’re in the market for a new luxury automobile and looking to take a vacation, BMW ensures picking up the Ultimate Driving Machine at the Welt in Munich will be an unforgettable start to your European road trip.
“We enjoy having American customers here,” said Oliver Rademacher, head of visitor center, vehicle delivery at BMW Welt. “It’s definitely an once-in-a-lifetime — or for some people a more-than-once-in-a-lifetime — experience.”
Annually, about 20,000 vehicles are picked up as part of the delivery program in Munich, about 10 percent of those customers are from the United States. Launched as a marketing tool 25 years ago, the pickup program helped promote the German brand in the United States, and has become a powerful introduction to Germany itself.
Contacting your local BMW dealer is a good place to start your European adventure. The dealership will serve as your primary facilitator through the pickup process, letting you test drive similar models and walking you through the myriad of custom-order options. “Generally, the customer is going to come in two to three months prior to their trip,” said Cam Warren, new car sales manager at Hendrick BMW in Charlotte, North Carolina, which schedules about 15-17 cars for European delivery each year.
Two days after your vehicle is ordered, BMW will send you a confirmation email, followed in less than two weeks by a welcome package. About 45 days before your trip, a client advisor will help you complete your European delivery purchase order, and two weeks out, you’ll finalize payment through BMW.
As an added bonus, BMW actually incentivizes European delivery by reducing the cost of available models. The amount of savings depends on the model — up to 5 percent of MSRP. For example, savings on a 340i Sedan is $2,395, while picking up an M6 Convertible in Munich saves you $6,115 — all of which could be applied to airfare, hotels, and entertainment.
“Anybody who’s ever done it always rants and raves that if you’re going to buy a BMW and you want to take a trip to Europe, this is the only way to do it,” Warren said.
If you’re not an experienced traveler or are just looking for help mapping out the perfect road trip, BMW has partnered with Butterfield & Robinson, a luxury travel company, to provide ready-to-book, self-drive itineraries. Choose from journeys such as the Munich Alpine Loop, Munich to Vienna and Munich to Paris. Or, if you believe charting your own course is half the fun, simply turn to TripAdvisor and Rick Steves for planning guidance.
“Munich is a very good starting point for any European trip,” Rademacher said.
If you’re participating in European pickup, that journey starts at the Welt.
Upon arrival at the BMW Welt, you’ll be greeted by your delivery specialist, as well as an assortment of fine pastries and beverages, at the Premium Lounge, which was completely redesigned in 2016. From questions about local driving regulations to concerns about pumping gas, these delivery specialists walk you through the nuances of the experience.
From there, you’ll be shepherded through the Product Information Center, where you’ll become acquainted with the features of your particular vehicle — through state-of-the-art digital presentations and hands-on instruction.
The European delivery program has a 94 percent satisfaction rating, Rademacher said, and with the attention to detail paid to each customer, it’s easy to see why.
“We see, in positive terms, people come to tears,” Rademacher said.
While on campus, many visitors choose to take a factory tour of BMW’s first plant. The Munich plant produces more than 221,000 vehicles and nearly 700,000 engines annually.
One-hundred years of BMW history are on display at the BMW Museum, just across the street from the Welt. Occupying nearly 54,000 square feet and highlighted by stunning architectural features, the museum includes about 125 of the brand’s most sought-after automobiles, motorcycles and engines.
At the conclusion of your experience at BMW Munich, and after you’ve gotten comfortable behind the wheel, you will drive your new car down an enormous spiral ramp, leading to automated doors and the outside world — a ceremonial exit referred to as the “honorary lap.”
After leaving the Welt, Europe awaits. Depending on your plans, you can travel south to Rome, taking in the Colosseum after stopping along so many mountain villages. Head west to Paris, taking side trips to Strasbourg, France. Spend the night in the Count of Ansembourg’s family castle — Temps d’Or Hotel — in the charming country of Luxembourg. Berlin. Prague. Budapest.
At the end of your journey, leave your vehicle at one of 12 drop-off locations throughout Europe, including cities such as Amsterdam, Zurich, and Vienna. Approximately 6-10 weeks later, your BMW will arrive at your dealership — and, if you’re lucky, with the front-facing European license plate still affixed.
“And,” Rademacher said, “that car will always have a story attached to it.”
FAQs on BMW’s European Delivery Program
Q: Who can participate?
A: Anyone 18 years or older with a valid permanent U.S. address and Social Security number can participate.
Q: Can someone pick up my vehicle for me?
A: No. The European delivery program is designed for you to experience the delivery at the BMW Welt.
Q: Can I Lease or finance my European delivery vehicle?
A: Yes, BMW Financial Services provides lease and financing for the European Delivery Program. If you lease or finance your vehicle through BMW Financial Services, the maximum your vehicle can stay in Europe is three months.
Q: How long can I keep my car in Europe?
A: If you are not utilizing BMW Financial Services, your vehicle can remain in Europe for a maximum of five months.
Q: Can I drop off my vehicle on a weekend?
A: Drop off locations are open Monday through Friday only. The Munich drop off location offers Saturday by appointment only. All drop-off appointments must be made in advance.
Q: How long will it take for my BMW to be shipped to the U.S.?
A: Approximate shipping time of your vehicle to the U.S. depends on the drop-off location and the U.S. destination port. The estimated shipping time of your vehicle to:
- East Coast is approximately 6-8 weeks.
- West Coast is approximately 8-10 weeks.
- Vehicles dropped off outside of Germany may take an additional week.
Q: How can I insure my vehicle past the complimentary two weeks?
A: If you wish to stay past the 14 days of complimentary insurance, you can purchase additional insurance coverage, which your dealer can assist you with during the order process.
Q: Are there any vehicles excluded from the European delivery program?
A: Yes, the following vehicles are not available: i3, X3, X4, X5 and X6.
Q: What’s included
A: Complimentary Munich airport shuttle 14 days of free insurance and registration Munich factory tour and BMW museum visit.