When Jim and Mary LaMew collected their new BMW 340i xDrive recently, they drove it off the lot, turned south and headed straight for the Autobahn.
“We were told to keep it under 100 mph [160 km/h] and 4,500 rpm until we had driven the car at least 1,200 miles [1,930 km],” says Jim, a construction superintendent from Ridgefield, Wash. “Knowing 100 mph is quite fast, you would think there would be no desire to even push the break-in limits. It didn’t take long to find out we were wrong.”
The LaMews were using BMW’s European Delivery service, in which there is no additional charge for collecting a new car in Munich, driving it for up to two weeks on European roads, and then having it shipped home to their local dealer. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche offer similar programs.
The LaMews drove directly to Neuschwanstein Castle, then back to Munich for Oktoberfest, up to Prague and back around to Munich via Slovenia and Austria. They paid for their flights and vacation costs, but not for the use of the car – even two weeks of road insurance is included in the BMW program. At the end of the 2,200-kilometre trip, they returned the car to BMW and it was shipped to their dealer in Washington, where it was ready for its first service. The car was built in Germany, so transatlantic shipping was already part of its purchase price.
The LaMews collected their car two months later and drove it home, still with the vignette stickers on the windshield that must be bought to drive in each European country. “I hope the vignettes don’t deteriorate too much, too soon,” Jim says. “They are interesting little souvenirs, and fun conversation pieces.”
Ultimately, there is no additional cost to a Canadian buyer for taking delivery of a new BMW in Germany – the price will be the same on the invoice as it will be for collecting it at a dealership in Canada. Freight and PDI charges are the same, and all purchase and shipping taxes will be Canadian. The only additional charge might be if the buyer returns the vehicle in Europe to one of a dozen or so official collection points outside Germany, from Italy to Britain, which carry an $800 surcharge. Most buyers return their cars at no charge to one of six depots in Germany.
As well, if the buyer wants to stay in Europe for longer than two weeks, additional insurance must be purchased, and stays longer than three months might need extra taxes to be paid.
Not every new BMW is eligible for European Delivery, though. None of the X-Series SUVs qualify because they’re built in a U.S. assembly plant in South Carolina. As well, the i-Series electric cars, Minis and Rolls-Royces are not available, although a prospective Rolls-Royce owner would presumably find a way to make alternative arrangements.
When each BMW buyer takes delivery of a new car, a trained representative at the dealership will give the purchaser a full walk-around demonstration of the vehicle to explain its features and answer any questions. Buyers in Germany, however, can get an extra experience: They can collect the car from Munich’s BMW Welt, which is the company’s flagship exhibition hall, with restaurants and a private lounge. The BMW Museum and factory are both nearby, and complimentary tours are included.
The Welt (which translates as BMW World) includes a large, central stage on its second floor that can accommodate multiple-car presentations. The vehicles are delivered to the stage from an underground garage and their buyers watch them being driven into place under spotlights. First, though, the buyers are received at the private lounge and then expert demonstrators give them extensive slideshow tours of the models they’re purchasing. When the vehicles are ready on stage, the buyers are brought out and given hands-on demonstrations of all the models’ features before they drive them away.
For the LaMews, the whole process took a couple of hours, and they say it was time well spent, although also “a little surreal.” “It’s more his car,” Mary said at the time, as her husband asked yet another question of the demonstrator. “He didn’t sleep much last night, and I don’t think it was just the jet lag.”
They’d ordered their 340i with the M Sport track package, and driving in Europe gave them an idea of the capability of their new car. At Triglav National Park in Slovenia, “we encountered a Porsche Club, on some sort of rally, zipping through the hairpins, and taking blind corners in the wrong lane,” Jim says. “I tried to latch on, and while the car was up to it, my nerves were not. It was fun while it lasted though.”
The LaMews made their own arrangements, but BMW Canada partners with Toronto travel company Butterfield & Robinson to offer suggested or bespoke tours if wanted. The new car will be loaded with North American maps in its Navigation program, but a USB stick will add European maps to the system.
“I almost wish I would have leased the vehicle, so I could turn the vehicle back in and experience the process repeatedly,” Jim says, remembering the collection and the vacation. “But I love the car, and with the track handling package, it’s a wonderful machine to drive. I’m very satisfied.”
“Driving your own vehicle, and taking many of the lesser-used roads, seeing the sights we otherwise would not have even knew existed, gave us a much different European vacation,” he added. “Better than we could have ever imagined.”