Zurich and BMW European Delivery Pick-up 2003

For those not familiar with it, BMW offers the ability to actually take delivery of new BMWs in Munich, Germany. By doing so you get the opportunity to drive in a beautiful part of Europe and save significant $$$ on the purchase of a new BMW. In my case, I was picking up a new, 2004 BMW 330Ci. This report will focus only on the Eurpoean Delivery related parts of the trip; I may do a full report on our visit to Zurich and Lucern later.

First a little background: I had initially hoped to build a business trip around my pick-up, but when I got within a month of departure time and there was no hint of a need to be in Europe for business, I made reservations for a one-day "Pick it up, drop it off" trip using Frequent Flyer miles and hotel points. I was to leave Atlanta (via Delta) 5/8, arrive in Munich and pick up the 330Ci on 5/9. Then I would spend the night ("Airport Marroitt" in Freising) and return on 5/10. Then, about 2 weeks ago, our Swiss partner 'demanded' that I be in Zurich from 5/5 to 5/14. So, I changed my plans so that I arrived in Zurich on 5/5 and returned from there on 5/15 using normal tickets. I changed my FF tickets to my wife, who came over to Zurich, arriving on on 5/8. So now the plan was for us to take the train from Zurich to Munich the morning of 5/9, pick up the car and spend the night and drive back to Zurich on 5/10. I'll ruin the suspense by saying that everything could not have worked better... All the schedules worked out well and everyone involved was great.

Leaving The Zurich Train Station
Leaving the Zurich Train Station

Entrance to European Delivery
ED Entrance

My business activities in Zurich went well, but I doubt that anyone is interested in that, so enough said about business.... We caught the 7:33 train leaving the Haupbahnhof (main train station) in Zurich and it was on time or a little early pulling into Munich at 11:47. We considered taking the local train to the European Delivery site, but we were getting hungry and were looking forward to the food at the cafe, so we splurged and grabbed a taxi... it was 23 Euros and we had a very helpful/friendly driver. After "checking in" at the ED desk, we headed upstairs to get something to eat.

The gentleman there showed us the menu but seemed most proud of his regional specialty, white sausage, so we thought we'd try them. Good decision... They came with a pretzel appetizer and were very tasty (if not real filling) and the beer went well with them. After this we had a ice-cream for desert and then a cup of coffee. The gentleman and woman who run the cafe were very pleasant, friendly, and helpful.

Inside the Delivery Center
Inside the Delivery Center

Susan and I meet our new BMW
Meeting our new BMW

Just as we were finishing the coffee, Ernest came up to the table and introduced himself and started going through the paperwork. About 10 minutes later that was done, and we headed down to the 'garage' to meet our new BMW. Ernest took his time going over all the controls and gauges and such, making sure that I was comfortable with them. He also warned me not to exceed 4000 RPM or 90 MPH during the break-in period. (The manual says 4500 and 100: perhaps he figured I'd exceed whatever he told me so he was being conservative.) We packed up and headed out; I managed to get out of the garage without hitting anything or stalling (this is a 6 sp manual) although I did stall it once at the light at the other end of the street.

In the Delivery Center Garage
Delivery Center Garage

In the town of Freising
Town of Freising

We found our way to the Marriot (in Freising, about 15 miles north of the BMW location) with only one unintentional detour. At one point, on an Autobahn, as I was almost keeping up with traffic, I looked down and realized I was doing almost 90 mph. With the speed of the other traffic, and the effortless performance of the 330Ci, it seemed completely normal. At first I was concerned about staying at an "airport" hotel so far from Munich, but now I'd recommend it to anyone. The hotel itself was modern and very well maintained. The staff was very friendly and helpful. And the prices were about 1/2 of what we had become accustomed to in Zurich (even after converting from Swiss Francs to Euros). Although it was raining some, we took a walk through the town of Freising. It was just the right size to look around and get comfortable with in an afternoon. I normally avoid hotel restaurants, but since it was raining, we decided to take a chance... another good decision. We celebrated by having the hotel's special, Chateaubriand for two, which was only $18 each and was excellent. I decided I was glad we were there, rather than in downtown Munich.

The next morning, after a good breakfast, we set out for Zurich. We did have a couple of 'unintended detours', which we blamed on construction and lack of updated signs. The autobahns were a pure joy in the 330Ci. The only problem was holding the speed down to 'about 90'. Our route took us west, across Germany, briefly through Austria then into Switzerland. I looked for a place to purchase the Swiss Autobahn permit, but didn't see it anywhere as we crossed the border, so we just continued, figuring we'd "play dumb" if stopped (not hard for me to do anyway). We were still without a permit when we dropped it off for shipment; perhaps we were lucky. We pulled into Zurich about 2:00 after a very pleasant drive.

Staying under the Break-In limits on the Autobahn
On the autobahn

The View From lake Lucern
View from Lake Lucern

As part of my business activities, I drove down to Zug (30 miles south of Zurich) on Monday & Tue. The scenery was beautiful and the drive easy. As I was leaving the customer location Tue., one of the customer people I had worked with escorted me to the parking garage (this was a Swiss bank, so security was very tight). When he saw what I was driving he almost had a fit... He said this was the exact car that he would love to have. We took the time to let him try it on a little bit and he explained some of the features to his coworkers. On Wed, since I had completed my work, we drove down to Lucern (50 miles south of Zurich) and looked around for the day. The scenery of the area somehow matched the style and nature of the 330Ci.

I tend to be cautious, so Tue afternoon we made a trial run to the drop off point, which was only about 5 miles (or less) from the airport. We had a 11:00 flight out, but I wanted to make sure I could find the drop off location if we ended up a little pressed for time. The only 'problem' we encountered is that we were looking for E. H. Harms but the Zurich facility turned out to be "Gondrand" and we were a little puzzled until I went in and asked... no problem, just an unexpected name. They open at 8:30, so we planned to be there by 8:30 and at the airport soon after 9:00. Well, our packing, and hotel checkout, and traffic, went so smoothly that we arrived just before 8:00. So we got out the tools and started to remove the front license plate. A car pulled up and a young lady asked if we were dropping off the car and we replied, "as a matter of fact, yes". She said Swiss laws are such that we had to leave both plates on until it had left Switzerland, but that they would add a request to the instructions to remove the front plate and place it in the trunk. She then said that the woman who handles the ED paperwork would be there about 8:30 and we sat back to read the "USA Today" we had. Just a few minutes later the young woman came out and said that she would be glad to step us through the paperwork, getting our signatures where needed, and the other woman would complete the work when she arrived. We agreed and as I signed the necessary papers, they called for a taxi. Five minutes later we were done and went outside to wait for the taxi, which showed up about two minutes after that. We were at the airport and checking in by 8:30... The flight left on time and, as I write this on the plane, we're expecting to arrive on time in Atlanta.
Saying Good-By at the Drop-Off
Saying Good-By at drop off location

Some general observations:

I've been to Europe a number of times and have generally been treated well. Even so, there was really something special about this trip. Everyone we encountered who was in any way connected with the delivery process seemed to go above and beyond to make the experience a pleasure. And I don't just mean the BMW and E H Harms people. Everyone from the Munich taxi driver, everyone at BMW (but especially the Cafe host/hostess), the people at the Marriott in Freising, to the woman at the Gondrand drop off point in Zurich were pleasant, friendly and helpful. Maybe we just got lucky, but perhaps the US has lost some of the personal friendly touch that is still alive and well in much of Europe. If anyone is concerned about the atmosphere in Europe these days, forget that thought and go now while they are still and friendly and helpful as they have ever been. It was a truly enjoyable experience. Now comes the bad part.... waiting for my 330Ci to be delivered to me in Atlanta.

For those interested in the "European Delivery" option, I recommend the following Internet resources.

Bimmerfest Web Site - Go to the 'Forums' area and then the "European Delivery" subject. There will be several discussione/threads of interest. The rest of the site and other subjects may be interesting also.

EuroBuyers Here is the price information you need... list and invoice for both US and European delivery BMWs.

Gary's BMW Site provides a lot of general BMW information, some ED specific information, a couple of examples of hisuse of ED.

Contact me via mike@hammocktree.org