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Picking up a new BMW in Germany – Part 1

January 10, 2011

Have you ever had two goals in life that, after spending a little time working on, you somehow found a way of combining into one big accomplishment?  It may be as simple as finding a way to do all your Christmas shopping at Walgreens in one day while picking up your prescriptions, or as incredible as scheduling a business trip to visit a sister in another state the week she is having her baby.  Whatever it may be, these “combined accomplishments” always taste a bit sweeter because they make us feel like we somehow made one effort great enough to conquer many, and have “tricked” the system that is our ever-so-scheduled lives. 

In March of 2010 my fiancé Jen and I had two big things on our calendar for the upcoming year that, six months later, would result in one of those magnificent combined accomplishments.  The first of these priorities was a much anticipated vacation in Europe.  Oktoberfest was high on our respective bucket lists as we both had a serious thirst for both culture and good beer, the latter perhaps fueled by the myriad options given us at our local Yard House.  So starting with Munich, we had hoped to follow the path led by a good friend of ours, Joe, who had done a similar trip several years back that led him and some buddies to Prague, Budapest, and Vienna.  The stories, photos, and anticipation of new adventure got us in planning mode as spring was upon us. 

At this same time Jen was beginning the process of looking for her next new car.  The lease on her ‘07 BMW Z4 would be up in just a couple of months and time was running out on finding a suitable replacement.  Having recently started her own public relations business, and adding a second dog to our growing pet family, she had a newfound need for a usable backseat.  She also loved the way her Z4 looked and handled, so we naturally started looking at another BMW first.  After a short investigation I discovered a way to fulfill our desire for a new car while incorporating it into what would become our first European Adventure together, all while saving a bit of money to boot.    

The thought process

An easy sell for any car nut (or fiancé thereof): 

 -Order a new, U.S.-spec BMW from your local dealer at a discount of over 10%

-Pick up the vehicle in Germany several months later and tour the factory in which it was built

-Drive your new car in Europe for two weeks, fully insured

-Drop off the car in Munich (or one of several other points in Western Europe) and fly home

-BMW ships the car back to your dealer within 6-8 weeks for free

-Go back to your dealer, pick up your car, and drive on your merry way

I had already budgeted to spend upwards of $1,000US to rent a car for two weeks in Europe and would love the thought of putting that money elsewhere.  Meanwhile Jen had narrowed her decision on a new car down to the BMW 1-series convertible (still top-town fun but a semi-usable backseat) and a BMW 3-series sedan (more practical for clients, dogs, and potential future children).  So once a specific model was chosen it was Manifest Destiny…we were to get her new car in Europe! 

The Research

 Having learned how to perform high-performance engine swaps on Hondas in college through the internet, my first instinct was to scan Google to find some websites to brush up on the BMW European Delivery subject.  BMW USA has some excellent starting point information on their site, but soon I would find a plethora of message boards on Bimmerfest.com, a very tight community of serious enthusiasts, with scores of members swapping stories on the European Delivery process.  After reading up on the ins and outs and do’s and don’ts, I felt comfortable enough to start calling around to my local Southern California dealers to feel out the process for real.  Lucky for us we live in a part of the country where, to visitors, it appears they hand out BMW’s at the DMV when you get your driver’s license.  There are no fewer than 21 authorized dealers in So Cal and three within 15 miles of our home. 

The Deal

After a few days of phone interviewing among local dealers I found the most confidence in South Bay BMW.  Their Euro Delivery guru, Phillipe Kahn, struck a deal over the phone that was crystal clear and the most competitive.  The pricing on BMW USA’s website for Euro Delivery is already quite good, but I can say in all confidence that Phillipe will do better. 

The Car

It was now May and after much deliberation and some thinking on business, dog, and future family practicality, the 3-series sedan won out over the little 1 convertible.  BMW had some excellent incentives on the recently-introduced 335d, a diesel-powered car that provided the best of both worlds:  fun to drive combined with excellent fuel-mileage.  Fun to drive as in 425lb-ft of torque.  For those not familiar with torque ratings, torque is basically the “oomph” that pushes you back in your seat, helps you climb hills, and makes trucks so good at towing boats.  The torque rating on this car is more than double that of a comparable gasoline 328i and 41% greater than a 335i.  This results in outstanding acceleration and freeway passing performance, all in a package that gets 36 miles per gallon on the highway, which is the same as the eco-minded 4-cylinder Honda Civic.

The Order

So there it was.  We had a decision made.  Jen was initially leery on the idea of owning a diesel, but one test drive in the 335d and she was sold.  The car was quiet, powerful, and comfortable at any speed, and provided better fuel economy than anything close in comparison.  Our ordering process was as simple as emailing our dealer with our specified options and colors, signing a few papers, and waiting a week or two to determine our exact delivery date at the BMW Welt in Munich.  Another added bonus for doing European Delivery is that the customer is not limited to what dealerships have on hand.  We were able to choose the exact specifications of the car we wanted, no more and no less.  Jen once again went with the car wash owner’s dream of “Jet Black” with a black leather interior, aluminum trim (instead of wood), and the Sport package.  Heated seats and Bluetooth connectivity rounded out the order.    

The Waiting Game

By May 13th we had placed our order and it was time to continue planning our trip.  In anticipation of early sell-outs for Oktoberfest I had booked our hotel in Munich the previous November (which I later found out was sound planning).  By June we had fully confirmed the pick-up date of our car in Munich to be September 17th, the day before Oktoberfest would begin.  In the ensuing months we would slowly begin planning the remainder of our trip.  Another perk of the European Delivery program is that BMW has a partnership with Lufthansa Airlines that gives European Delivery customers a 2 for 1 deal on tickets to Munich.  After much research on the typical discount websites I could not find a deal better than this anywhere.  Our research was also aided through help from some friends who had been to our target cities before, along with some of our own investigation.  It was a long, fun summer in Orange County, but in the back of our minds we could not stop thinking about our upcoming adventure to Europe in September.

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