Canadians who wish to go through the entire experience of buying a new German car overseas, taking delivery and then shipping it home can often get formal assistance from the selling auto maker.
Here's a look at what's possible (Volkswagen does not have a formal program similar to BMW, Porsche and Mercedes):
If you want to drive your new BMW at top speed on the highway, Germany is the place where it's legal - on certain stretches of the autobahn. BMW Canada has put in place a European Delivery Program to make this possible for Canadians who buy, lease or finance a new Bimmer.
The company will facilitate your order for a Canadian-specified BMW to be picked up in Germany, then delivered home to Canada. BMW says it is the only automotive manufacturer in Canada that allows lease and finance customers to take part in a European Delivery program as well as purchase customers. The price is the same in Canada or Germany.
If you buy, you'll take delivery at the BMW Welt delivery centre in Munich. There, you'll visit not just the delivery centre, but the new BMW Museum and take a factory tour in Munich to see how the vehicle is made.
Buyers are free to drive around Europe for up to five months before dropping off the car at one of the specified points Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Holland). Six to eight weeks later, a local BMW dealer delivers the car in Canada.
BMW Canadian retailers arrange everything from European insurance (for up to 14 days) to duty, licence plate fees and shipping. Everything is included in the original vehicle cost.
Porsche charges a fee for its European delivery service, with prices ranging from $3,178 (Boxster/Cayman) to $5,787 (any turbo mode). The fee includes the shipping cost of the car back to Canada, a night in a hotel, a factory tour and a visit to the Porsche museum.
Porsche says that, when you go this route, your first few hours in Germany are "spent as the special guest of Porsche." Of course.
The program includes a visit to the Porsche Museum and, if you want, a tour of the state-of-the-art facility in Leipzig, the birthplace of the Porsche Cayenne. A tour of the Zuffenhausen factory is a peek into how Porsche cars are assembled. Porsche allows for a lunch at the factory in the VIP dining room.
Once you have the keys, you are free to drive through Europe before Porsche takes back your car for delivery to Canada. All costs are included in the fee, from marine insurance to collision and third-party insurance.
"Even the cab fare from the airport to the Porsche factory and one free hotel night is included," says Porsche.
The Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program has been in place for more than 30 years. It allows buyers to drive a new vehicle "straight out of our factory and on to the Autobahn," the company says. Of course, a tour of the company museum in Stuttgart is included.
The company's European Delivery Centre is in Sindelfingen, which is very near downtown Stuttgart, the headquarters of Mercedes' parent, Daimler AG. After taking delivery, owners are free to drive in Germany and other parts of Europe before leaving the vehicle at one of 12 designated drop-off points scattered throughout Europe. Mercedes will ship the vehicle back to the nearest Canadian dealership to the owner's home.
Mercedes says the company offers assistance with the customs and duties process and will also help secure licence plates. Details about the costs, timing and how to sign up vary, so Mercedes-Benz Canada advises anyone interested to visit a local dealership.