Buy a Volvo, Fly to Sweden for FreeNovember 11, 2015
Cori George and her husband Ryan dreamed of a honeymoon in Norway, where picturesque roads seemed perfect for their motorcycle trip.
The cost of the trip – especially if they traveled about 12 hours to ride their motorcycles at Nurburgring, a motorsports complex in Germany where you drive your own car or motorcycle, as hoped – was a bit of a concern. Also top of mind was the fact that their Toyota 4-Runner had succumbed after about 200,000 miles.
George’s brother suggested they look into various automakers’ overseas delivery programs. After researching their options, the couple settled on purchasing a new Volvo through its overseas program.
The premise of the Volvo program is simple. Buy a car through the program and get two free tickets to fly to Gothenburg, Sweden to pick up your new car in person.
For purchasing their Volvo S60 through the program, the Georges flew for free to Sweden and also received a night’s stay at a nice hotel in Gothenburg, a Volvo factory tour (including lunch) and two weeks of car insurance for free. In addition to saving about 4 percent on the MSRP of the car, they saved on the cost of a rental car by driving their new car for much of their honeymoon. Volvo ships cars back to new owners for free from Gothenburg, although the Georges paid $200 to ship their car from Brussels to California.
“It helped us take the trip we wanted to take,” Cori George said. “We needed a new car anyway.”
Sound too good to be true?
“Most people were like: Wait…what?” George said. “Everyone wants to know what the catch is. To me there really isn’t a catch; the catch is you have to buy a new Volvo.”
Diana Shaffer, manager of overseas delivery sales at Volvo Cars of North America LLC, often gets the same reaction.
“People are really surprised: ‘Wow, that’s great, tell me more about it,’” said Shaffer, who leads a team of three in New Jersey that serves as a concierge service for planning the buyer’s vacation in addition to assisting with all the logistics of the car purchase.
Here’s how the program works:
- Buyers start by visiting their local Volvo dealer to test drive and choose a car
- Then they order their Volvo through the Overseas Delivery Program from the local dealer; it’s important to note that buyers can take advantage of special options or colors not available in the United States; it can take about three months from the point of ordering to when the car is ready for pickup in Sweden
- For purchasing through the program, the buyer receives for free: two round-trip tickets to Gothenburg; car insurance for 15 days (the buyer can extend at cost as necessary); Volvo on-call service; European car registration for six months (buyers can keep their European license tags as a souvenir); a night’s stay at a hotel in Gothenburg; and a factory tour/brand experience that includes a Swedish lunch
- After cruising around Sweden or other parts of Europe, buyers drop off their cars in Gothenburg for free shipment back to the States or any official drop-off location throughout Europe (small fees apply from other drop-off locations); Volvo handles all excise taxes and import responsibilities; it takes four to six weeks for buyers on the East Coast to get their cars back and six to eight for buyers on the West Coast
“They do a wonderful job, they roll out the red carpet,” said William Marks, overseas delivery coordinator for Lawrence Volvo in Walnut Creek, Calif. “They do a great job of taking care of American tourists.”
Marks, who has helped buyers all over the United States for the past 15 years, said customers are amazed when they hear about the program. He’s had several customers order through the program more than once.
“It’s an enjoyable way to get a new car and a vacation all wrapped in one,” Marks said. “It sounds too good to be true, but it’s true.”
According to Marks, Volvo started the program in 1956 and has made subtle tweaks in recent years. Global Traveler Magazine has rated the Volvo Overseas Delivery Program “best in class” in 2013 and 2014 – Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Audi are among the other dealers that offer overseas programs.
Shaffer said buyers can expect up to savings on the base price of the car through the overseas program with occasional additional incentives, like a current discount of $500 on European vacation packages (excludes the XC90). She’s quick to point out one of the taglines of the program: “Dream car, dream vacation.”
“The souvenir is a car,” Shaffer said. “You’re not just buying a car, you’re buying an experience.”
George, who has been blogging about crafts and DIY projects for five years at Hey, Let’s Make Stuff (you can read her blog about the Volvo program here), and her husband started their trip in Gothenburg and stayed for an extra day before parking their car and spending nine days in Norway enjoying rainy, yet beautiful rides on a rented motorcycle.
They picked up their car and took a ferry to Denmark for a visit to Legoland. They then spent three days each in Prague and Belgium, one night in Austria – where they rode a mountainside roller coaster – and sandwiched in a trip to Nurburgring.
“We couldn’t have done it without our overseas delivery,” George said. “It would have been a much shorter trip without the car.”