My European Delivery Experience

Porsche European delivery PHOTOBy PCA Los Angeles Member Fritz Kastner

I took delivery of my new Porsche 991 in September of 2012 and took advantage of the European Delivery program the company offers. This requires some planning ahead and in early 2012, when I decided to buy a new 991, I contacted my local dealer and started the conversation.

The way European Delivery works is to order the car from your US dealer and make your deal like in any ordinary transaction, except you specify European Delivery. This means that you pick up the car at the factory, drive it around as long as you are in Europe and then return it to Porsche. The factory will then ship your car together with all the other new cars to your US dealer, where you pick it up.

Since I travel to Europe just about every year and always end up driving a rental car, I had already once before taken European Delivery of a car, so the process was not entirely new to me. This time, the plan was to get a 2013 model, and we settled on a European Delivery date of early September. That month is traditionally quite dry and sunny, and with the summer travel season being over, this also meant less traffic and the prospect of reasonable hotel prices.

The trip is in jeopardy unless you deal successfully with your spouse’s panic. There is enough of room for luggage in the car. We ended up with two 24” suitcases, three carry-ons, assorted coats and jackets, umbrellas and camera bag. By the end of the trip, there were also several shopping bags. With a little planning, everything will fit without restricting 360-degree visibility at all.

Porsche announced 2013 specifications and pricing in April 2012 and that is when I finalized my order. That sounds easy, but it was preceded by days of studying the options list and making the hard decisions. As we all know, Porsche has a laundry list of options and deciding what options not to choose will test your strength of character. It tested mine.

Depending on what you plan to do while travelling in Europe, you may wish to select option code TDN, European Navigation on PCM. This will give you GPS navigation across Europe, and as it turned out, it worked very well. It will give you alternate routes if you get stuck in the infamous STAU on the Autobahn, tell you about heavy traffic ahead and will guide you to your hotel.

I was happy to find that the Porsche European Delivery program comes free of charge. You are reading this right. No additional cost for European Delivery. This includes 2 weeks of registration and insurance, and you can buy more time if need be. We did. By the time you are ready to pick up your car, all the paperwork is done, and as part of the Auslieferung (delivery) they will hand you a temporary registration and insurance certificate and have the German Custom license plates installed on the car. Front and back, unfortunately, since the German Police have even less tolerance for missing front plates than the CHP.

In addition, Porsche will give you vouchers for your taxi ride from and to the airport, and will treat you to a one-night stay in a very nice hotel in Stuttgart. This delivery program has been in place for a relatively short time and hopefully will stay in place for a while.

There is another wrinkle you need to be aware of. Germany charges a VAT tax on vehicles. Since your US price does not include this tax, you are required to make a deposit, which will be refunded after the factory ships the car out of Germany. If you are having so much fun zipping up and down the Autobahn that you decide to keep the car in country after all, then the Germans will be happy to keep your deposit. Which, by the way, is 10,000 USD.

Before we left for Europe, Porsche Cars North America gave us a fine black leather briefcase with all the paperwork, which I thought was a very classy touch. It also had a letter with precise instructions how your vehicle delivery was planned to go over the boards. We were instructed to present ourselves at the Zuffenhausen factory, and I quote “ Tourist Delivery Center by 8.15 a.m. on your designated delivery date, Month, Day, Year.” ( jawohl ! ) and to check in at the front desk. The letter also advised that we were scheduled for a Factory Tour and that upon delivery of the car will be treated to lunch at the Porsche VIP Casino. There were also complimentary tickets for a visit to the new Porsche Museum, in case we were interested. Silly question.

Then came the bad news. Once the vehicle is returned to Porsche, it could take 8 to 10 weeks for the car to be delivered to my US dealer. On the bright side, there was a 10% discount for attendance of a Porsche Sports Driving School. Aha. (See www.porschedriving.com )

I could not even open my mouth before the guard pointed to a door. How could he possibly know what I wanted to ask? The answer to the riddle: What does a smiling couple want, arriving at the factory gate in a taxi, at 8.00 am in the morning? Right.

There were 3 cars to be delivered that morning. The Delivery Center has a beautiful showroom where the cars were lined up in a row. The LA Auto Show has nothing on them. My only criticism is that they did not offer Kleenex to the salivating customers. Each buyer has a smiling delivery specialist assigned to them, who has at least one answer for every question you ask. There is also a professional photographer and you will be handed your photo before you leave. First order of business: Have the digital speedometer set to kmh. It reduces the need to constantly talk with the local Gendarme.

The factory tour continues to fascinate me even though I have done it now at least 3 times. There is no clanging and banging and flying sparks on the factory floor, all you hear is the occasional screw gun and hydraulic hiss. You can actually carry on a normal conversation without raising your voice. The assembly line in Zuffenhausen is unique, because it is located in a 4-story building, where the car body enters on the top floor and the finished product rolls out at the bottom. You can schedule a visit even without buying a car, and I highly recommend you do it.

Lunch was first class. The VIP Casino is located on the top of a 3-story building and offers a nice view across Porsche Platz at the new Porsche Museum. Adjacent to the museum is the Porsche Center, a top-notch show room and dealership. I made a quick visit to the service counter where I bought 1 liter ( a bit more than a quart ) of  0W40 Mobil 1. I thought it prudent to have the correct spare oil with the car. I was concerned that it may not be readily available in some of the out of the way places we planned to visit. Porsche was happy to sell it to me and I paid 27,37 Euros for it. That is almost 36 USD for 1 quart. At that cost, I saved the invoice as a cherished memento.

Three weeks and 5115 km later we were back at Zuffenhausen to return the car. There are a number of alternate return locations as well and it probably makes little difference where you drop off the car. We were greeted again by our delivery specialist, who took a careful look at the car to see if there were any “modifications“ to the body. Except for a tiny stone chip, there were none. He also asked for our experience with the car and any comments we had. I had several.

I was enthusiastic about the absolute uncanny high-speed stability of the car. Even at the top of the performance envelope it runs like on rails. This comment was rewarded with smiles all around. Then I asked if it was possible to speak to the genius who designed the new (expletive deleted) emergency brake plus seatbelt interface. This request was met with a somewhat pained smile. As it turned out, Einstein was not available.

Nevertheless, we had a thoroughly enjoyable time with our new car in Europe and I can only recommend to anyone to check off the European Delivery option on the order form.

Photo Caption:  Photo opportunity with the local authorities on the way to Cap Frèhel in Brittany. Note the charming lady Gendarme and her colleague with the radar gun. Fritz Kastner photo.