The Complete Guide to Factory and European Delivery for Diesels

By Jonathan Spira on 15 August 2012
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European Delivery, also known as Factory Delivery is the only way I know of buying a new car.  Indeed, I have found memories of accompanying my parents to the local Mercedes-Benz dealer to discuss ordering a vehicle when I was just ten years old.  Unlike the way my friends’ parents purchased cars, which was to pick one out at a local dealership, my parents were planning to pick up a new Mercedes-Benz sedan at the factory in Sindelfingen, Germany. Later, when living in Munich as a student at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, I purchased a BMW 3 Series (petrol powered, unfortunately not a diesel) through that automaker’s European Delivery program.

In the past three years, I’ve made three trips for the specific purpose of taking delivery of a diesel-powered automobile at the factory. The first time it was a BMW 335d, which I picked up in Munich; the second time it was a Mercedes E350 BlueTec, which was waiting for me in Sindelfingen.  The third, a mere eight weeks ago, was a trip to Spartanburg to take delivery of a BMW X5 xDrive35d.

2010 BMW 335d in Berchtesgaden

With respect to my habit of taking factory delivery, I am hardly alone.  Last year, almost 5,000 Americans purchased a car in a similar fashion, traveling to the factory to pick up a brand new Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, or Volvo, and even more will do so this year.

When it comes to diesels, the choices are somewhat more limited.  While diesels are wildly popular in Europe, accounting for roughly 50% of the market, the reality in the U.S. is that sales of diesel-powered automobiles comprise less than 3% of the total.  In the U.S., the market is led by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen.  All but Volkswagen offer the opportunity to take delivery of at least one diesel model at the factory.

Audi and Mercedes-Benz offer a total of four diesel-powered models via European Delivery and BMW offers one model for Factory Delivery.  Porsche will start to sell the 2013 Cayenne Diesel sport utility vehicle (SUV) in September, and come next year, Audi will offer diesel variants of the A6, A8, and Q5, while BMW announced plans for two new dieselsthat will be available in calendar year 2013.  This means that buyers will have a choice of a minimum of ten diesel models that can be picked up at the factory at some point next year, almost doubling the current figure.

2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec in Sindelfingen

The diesel engine is at its best when cruising along an Autobahn.  Not only does the massive torque these engines provide make it easy to overtake slower traffic, but fuel economy – even when driving at 180 km/h (112 mph) will still typically exceed that of the petrol variant by a third.

Picking up one’s car at the factory is not, however, a practice limited to Americans.  Indeed, BMW built the BMW Welt (which opened in October 2007) at a cost of nearly 500 million euros largely to accommodate customers in Germany and other European nations who wanted to take delivery at the factory.  Mercedes-Benz expanded its Kundencenter in Sindelfingen (which is near Stuttgart) as well and both companies deliver up to several hundred cars each day to people who will drive them all the way home.

Of course, Americans can’t drive their cars all the way home – but they can drive them in their natural habitat for several weeks and then send them off by ship across the Atlantic.  By doing so, they will not only have the trip of their lives but they will be saving anywhere from 4 to 13% and bringing back the largest souvenir possible from a trip, namely a new car.

Click here to continue to Page 2How European Delivery Works, How to Arrange European Delivery, Timeline, and Resources

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