Get A Free Ride With Your New Car: European Delivery Programs

Like many longtime New Yorkers, I don’t own a car and know little about the finer points of purchasing or owning a vehicle. A recent Volvo ad caught my eye in an airline in-flight magazine: If you purchase your car and pick it up in Sweden, they’ll pick up the tab on your trip. A new car and free travel? This was something I could get behind! Doing some research, I discovered quite a few of the top European car makers offer an overseas delivery program.

While you’ll have to plan in advance (generally 3-4 months) to get your car and your trip, you’ll save on the vehicle cost, plus get to pick it up hot off the presses and drive it around European roads. Once you have it shipped to the U.S., you will wait another 8-10 weeks or so to be reunited stateside. Some programs include free airfare and hotel nights, most include factory tours, European road insurance and import/export fees.

Here’s a look at the most popular programs, including travel costs and savings.Audi (Germany)
Travel perks: European Delivery customers get 5-15 percent off airfares on Lufthansa, chauffeured pick up from the Munich airport and a free night at a 4- or 5-star hotel near the factory. On the day you get your keys, you’ll visit the Audi museum and factory, with free meals and snacks all day. You then have two weeks to tool around Europe, with free drop off (by advance arrangement) at any one of 16 locations in Germany and western Europe.
Extra options: Serious Audi fans might consider an additional driving or race “experience” in summer or early fall (many of the winter events require special experience like driving in Scandinavia), where you can learn to drive like a pro, take on a racing circuit, or tour Europe in a luxury vehicle. It’ll cost extra, of course, from a few hundred euro per person. Note that all vehicles ready between November 1-April 15 must have winter tires installed at the factory, but that may be included in the cost of the car.
Car pricing: Audis are priced from $33,800, before the discount up to 5 percent off MSRP, except for the highest end models such as the R8 Spyder.

BMW (Germany)
Travel perks: You can get to Bavaria with 5-15 percent off airfares on Lufthansa. At the BMW Welt facility, you’ll get free museum and factory tours, and refreshments at the cafe. They’ll cover European road insurance for up to 14 days, then you can drop off your vehicle at one of 12 locations free, except Italy which has a supplement of up to 850 euro (must be those Italian drivers!).
Extra options: In addition to airfare, you’ll pay to get to the factory from Munich airport, as well as any hotels on your trip. As befitting a luxury automobile, BMW offers a range of luxury add-on trips designed to make the most of driving the Autobahn in the ultimate driving machine. (The “optional” note indicates they aren’t included free in the deal, but they are specially designed for BMW customers.) Winter deliveries will also require seasonal tires in Germany; it is possible to rent the winter tires if you don’t have them factory-installed.
U.S. pick up: Another option entirely is the Performance Center Delivery Program in Spartanburg, South Carolina. If you travel down south for your car, BMW will pay for your hotel and meals, plus a tour of its U.S. factory and museum, and best of all, professional driving instruction. You won’t get the savings you’d get on a European delivery, but the travel costs are much lower.
Car pricing: From $29,065 with savings, up to 7 percent on MSRP. See all models here.

Mercedes-Benz (Germany)
Travel perks: While airfare discounts aren’t included, you’ll get Mercedes’ travel assistance for booking your trip, airport transfers and one night hotel accommodations. When you pick up your car, you’ll have a tour of the factory and museums, meals at the delivery center, 15 days road insurance and a tank of gas to get you on your way.
Extra options: You can add a self-guided tour of the Black Forest or Alps at additional cost. Drop offs in Italy, England or Spain are additional (Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands are covered at no cost), and you’ll have to arrange for winter tires as with the other programs.
Car pricing: Vehicles from $35,800, with a 7 percent discount on MSRP.

Volvo (Sweden)
Travel perks: The best “deal” of the European Delivery programs, Volvo will include two round-trip plane tickets from the U.S. to Scandinavia (we’d assume Stockholm, but it’s 4-5 hours from the Volvo factory), one night in a hotel in Gothenburg, as well as the usual factory tour and road insurance.
Extra options: You will have to pay if you drop off or pick up anywhere other than the factory location, several hundred dollars or more, but it makes sense given the location of Volvo in Sweden as opposed to more central Germany. You may also see some seasonal charges: $150 per passenger supplement for summer flights, and the rental costs of snow tires between December and April. Volvo offers a variety of trips for more Scandinavian travel if you’d like to extend your trip.
Car pricing: Eligible Volvo models are from $31,420 after savings up to 7 percent on MSRP. See available models.

Bottom line: If you’re buying a new luxury vehicle, you likely aren’t a budget traveler. The savings even with free airfare, road insurance and a night at a nice hotel won’t likely offset what you’ll spend on the rest of your trip, let alone a car. However, if you are in the market for a slick new ride, driving it home on the Autobahn after seeing how it’s made is likely to be an unforgettable trip.

Original Hershey Chocolate Factory closing in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Milton Hershey’s chocolate factory, with its iconic double smokestack, is closing soon in downtown Hershey, Pennsylvania.

According to a National Public Radio report, Hershey’s chocolate bars will still be made nearby, in a newer facility outside of town that better accommodates modern manufacturing equipment. The company says global competition is the reason the factory will be shuttered, with 500 jobs lost in the process.

When Hershey built his factory, he followed the lead of British chocolate-maker Cadbury in building housing, community centers and even an amusement park for the chocolate company’s employees.

But in the century since the company was founded, Hershey, Pennsylvania, has become more than a factory town. Its Hersheypark theme park now caters to tourists, and hotels and resorts have sprung up around it.

For decades, visitors to “America’s chocolate center” toured the original factory at the corner of Chocolate and Cocoa avenues along with their visit to Hersheypark.

Today, the factory tours have been replaced by a 10-minute ride at Hershey’s Chocolate World that shows the chocolate-making process in a more visitor-friendly environment. But a monorail ride at Hersheypark still passes the original factory, with a voice-over describing it as “the world’s largest chocolate factory.”

The factory broke ground back in 1903 when the town of Hershey was still called Derry Church. Five years into its operation, the plant gave birth to a candy that Hershey named the Kiss – starting a long tradition of churning out massively popular chocolate products. Hershey now produces over 80 million Kisses every single day.

Before Milton Hershey became the largest maker of chocolate in the world, he made his money with caramel – and was one of the first to use fresh milk in his recipe. The sale of his caramel firm is what financed his chocolate empire. And even though his empire is mostly known for its Kisses and Bars – the various plants around the world churn out almost 200 different candy products, including gum, mints, hard candy and licorice.

One famous product that was made in the town came from the H.B. Reese company – founded by a former dairy worker for Hershey. It wasn’t till 1963 that the Hershey company purchased Reese’s and making the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup a member of the Hershey family.

[Image credit: Flickr user slgckgc]%Poll-53886%

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