How to Plan a Diesel-Powered European Delivery Trip

By Jonathan Spira on 11 January 2014
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Crossing the Swiss-Italian border

Crossing the Swiss-Italian border

One of the great joys in traveling is flying off to a distant destination and then embarking upon a drive.  While many people rely on rental cars for this purpose, it’s possible to travel to Europe, pick up your very own diesel-powered car at the factory, and drive around the continent before returning home and parking a brand new car in your garage.

The programs have various names, including European Delivery, Overseas Delivery, and Tourist Delivery, but they are very similar in form and function.  Customers order a new car at a dealership in the U.S., fly to the factory’s city, accept delivery and drive.

Audi buyers head off to Ingolstadt, BMW customers to Munich, Mercedes-Benz fans to Sindelfingen (near Stuttgart), and Porsche drivers to Stuttgart or Leipzig.

The programs offered by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche are similar in how they work although the perks and amenities offered to customers by the various automakers vary greatly.

The purpose of this article, however, is not to review the various programs but to look at how to plan a successful and enjoyable trip around the delivery of the car.  After all, it isn’t every day that travelers bring home a 4,000-pound (1,814-kilogram) souvenir.


As someone who has done European Delivery over a dozen times, I can attest that there’s nothing like it and it never gets old.  I’m writing this at the British Airways Galleries First lounge in London after having picked up a brand-new BMW 535d in Munich(at the BMW Welt) and driving to St. Moritz to Bozen (Bolzano) to Verona and back to Munich.

While new-car dealerships are nice, they pale in comparison to the palaces that carmakers have built as temples to the automobile. BMW clearly upped the ante in 2007 with the €500 million BMW Welt, but the Mercedes-Benz Kundencenter, the Audi Forum, and Volvo’s Factory Delivery Center all achieve the same goal: unite the new car owner with a brand-new vehicle in a festive and well-orchestrated manner.


European Delivery began as a way of building brand equity in the U.S. for foreign automakers.  At a time where the Big Three in Detroit held 90% of the market, automakers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and BMW were looking to build up sales and brand recognition and, combined with the advent of the jet age, recognized that Americans had started taking European vacations in far greater numbers than in previous decades.

Capitalizing on the idea of offering buyers the opportunity to save money, have a grand European vacation while driving their own car, carmakers went to work and soon a mixture of factory and independent programs were offering Overseas Deliveries.

Click here to continue to Page 2Car Cathedrals, Planning the Trip, Where to Go

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