The Complete Guide to Factory and European Delivery for Diesels

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BMW Welt, Munich

While European Delivery, also known as Overseas Delivery, Tourist Delivery, or Factory Delivery, is relatively unknown, it is available at every dealership in the U.S. from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo.   As mentioned, only Audi and Mercedes-Benz currently offer diesels via the program, although Porsche will begin offering its diesel in September.

A buyer simply goes to the dealership and orders a car for European Delivery, typically three months in advance of the desired delivery date.  The savings vary by manufacturer (see the chart at the end of this article) but they are far from inconsequential as a buyer will save a minimum of several thousand dollars on a purchase.

Audi Forum, Ingolstadt

When buying a diesel, European Delivery is not only free but you get a variety of additional benefits and amenities above what most traditional car buyers would get.  One night in a luxury hotel is standard.  All automakers provide you with admission to their respective museums, they feed you while you are at the delivery center, and Mercedes-Benz even waives the delivery fee (currently $875).

Buyers who take advantage of BMW’s U.S. factory delivery program do not benefit from a discounted price, but they do get numerous amenities including one night in a luxury hotel and a full-day program including off-road driving instruction at the Performance Delivery Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.


Today’s European Delivery programs can trace their roots directly back to the 1950s when members of the armed forces returning from Europe brought with them a taste for smaller and somewhat sportier European cars. Indeed, many soldiers and airmen purchased cars for use in Europe and then shipped their cars to the States.

1982 BMW 320iS, Munich

In the 1960s, with the exception of the occasional Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle), a foreign car was truly unusual in the United States.  Today’s popularity of European cars can be traced back to Max Hoffman, the Austrian emigrant automotive entrepreneur who, starting in 1948, almost single-handedly created the imported car business in the U.S.  During the course of his career,  Hoffman imported and/or marketed Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar, and BMW vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Volvo started their European Delivery programs in the 1950s but the 1960s, with the advent of the jet age, gave European carmakers the impetus to market to those Americans who might be taking their first European vacation.  They could drive around Europe in their own car, save on the expense of a rental car, save money on the purchase, and have a great story to tell.  Hoffman (then at BMW) and his peers at Mercedes-Benz, Saab, Volkswagen, and Volvo lost no time in aggressively marketing these programs to the first generation of American jetsetters.

Other entrepreneurs saw possibilities here as well.  Until U.S. safety and emissions regulations made it near impossible to import a European-spec vehicle, enterprising car dealerships in Europe advertised their own independent European Delivery programs.

Click here to continue to Page 3How to Arrange European Delivery, Timeline, and Program Comparison Chart

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