If you're in the market for a new BMW, Mercedes Benz or Porsche AND are planning a trip to Europe, you might consider arranging a factory delivery in Germany. You may get a small discount on the car, you save the cost of a rental car and you'll probably enjoy the process.

Larry Olmsted, writing in Investors Business Daily recently made these points about picking up a new car at the factory in Germany

  • European delivery programs typically include a reduced price and such amenities as insurance, a factory tour, museum visit, and complimentary meals and lodging.
  • You have to pay for your airfare and, of course, take the time to go to Europe.
  • Manufacturers usually offer discounts of 10% to 15% off the manufacturers suggested retail price to buyers who pick up their cars abroad. On a high-end model like the BMW 850 CiA, this means a savings of nearly $12,000 from the list price of $94,700. Of course, similar savings could often be had through haggling, except on the most popular models. (However, California buyers can save as much as 8.25% state sales tax by leaving the car in Europe for 90 days. Since most travelers can't stay away that long, BMW, for one, will store your new car for $2 per day before shipping it to the U.S.)
  • Mercedes Benz of North America in Montvale, N.J., offers a generous package. Buyers get a 90-minute tour of the company's Stuttgart factory, complimentary breakfast or lunch at the delivery center, 15 days comprehensive insurance with no deductible, and two nights lodging at a fine hotel. All transportation costs, including shipping, insurance, wharfage, customs duty, handling charges and ground delivery to your U.S. dealership, are covered.
  • Mercedes also offers a suggested scenic driving route through Germany, Austria and Switzerland, including six nights lodging and some meals, for $1,000 per couple, at places that are normally $300 a night.
  • Delivery orders are placed through your local dealership. With enough advance time usually three months but a minimum of three to six weeks you can order your choice of model, color and options. You then pick a date to take delivery and arrange your own flight.
  • Some companies offer discounted airfare through certain carriers.
  • At the end of your trip, you simply drop the car off at your choice of ports. Some companies include insurance, while others make it available at a minimal charge. BMW includes a month, but it can be extended for up to a year. Mercedes includes 15 days.
  • Once you drop off your car in Europe, expect a wait of six to eight weeks for it to arrive home.
  • The cars are models designed for U.S. use and are identical to what is available from a local dealer. Some come with factory-installed European radios, which are then switched at no charge when your car arrives here. Certain U.S. options such as alarms, CD players and cellular phones can't be installed until the car is delivered.
  • In Europe, buying a new car is a big event. It's normal for many Europeans to pick up their cars at the factory, a practice that's unheard of in the United States. So when Americans go to Europe to pick up their vehicles, they're treated to restaurants and welcome centers that were originally developed for the locals.