Will I save any money by buying a BMW while in Germany?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

So I says to my wife, "Wife, let's go to Germany." It was a particularly slow Tuesday, and I didn't have anything else to say to her. She caught me totally off guard when, for the first time in years, she agreed with me. So now I'm going, and I think to myself, "Self, wouldn't it be nice to buy a new German car from the factory, California smog-emission ready, and have the use of it there, and then bring it home to California, where we live?" So my question is: Can a person of average influence purchase a BMW without going through a U.S. dealer and save any money? Is it worth it? -- Doug

TOM: No. You'd have to use any savings to pay off the customs officials anyway. So I'd use the dealer, Doug.

RAY: I see my brother's begging for another IRS audit this year.

TOM: BMW has a European Delivery program, where you buy the car and make all of the arrangements right from your local dealer in California. Then you mosey on over to Munich at your leisure and pick up the car at the BMW factory.

RAY: You drive it around on the autobahn, test out the Wiener schnitzel holders and then put it on a boat whenever you're done. Then you pick it up again at your local dealer six or eight weeks later -- all ready to drive in the United States.

TOM: The advantages are that you save about 7 percent of the purchase price by picking it up at the factory. And depending on which model you're buying, that can certainly make a contribution to the cost of the trip. Plus, you don't have to pay to rent a car over there, and that saves you some additional money.

RAY: I'm sure you CAN do it on your own, but think about all of the annoying little things you'd have to arrange for yourself: Insurance for the car while you're driving in Europe, German registration and temporary license plates, marine insurance for the car while it's on the boat, all customs clearances and duties, and then you'd have to pay to have the U.S.-specific accessories installed when it got here.

TOM: Not to mention you'd have to learn enough German to say to the German longshoreman, "Please don't swing that crowbar so close to my brand-new 540i, Dieter."

RAY: So I'd go through the dealer, Doug. Trying to do something like this on your own, particularly when you don't speak the language, sounds penny-wise and deutsche-mark foolish.

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