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  • Saab European Delivery Program: Builds brand loyalty and creates life long fans

    Saab used to have a European delivery program where American customers could take delivery of their new Saabs in Europe and have them eventually shipped to the United States. At one time, a 9% discount was offered as well as a $2,000 to be used for travel or any other purpose. A free one night stay at the ritzy Ronnum Manor (Ronnums Herrgård), as well as dinner, and taxi rides to the hotel, to the factory, and to the delivery center were included.

    This is a multi-part article commemorating the 6th anniversary of my European delivery. Articles will appear at the anniversary of key time points, such as return of the car after the trip, arrival at the port, and taking possession of the car in the United States. Today is the 6th anniversary of my new car being loaded into the ship after I returned the new car after having driving it around in Sweden for a few days. (More detailed tracking of my car, as it makes its way across the Atlantic, can be found in my Saabworld blog.)

    There are variations of the experience of these five happy Saab owners, with some of them illustrating what is possible with Saab European delivery.

    European delivery brochures also mention that Canadian and Australian Saab owners can participate. If there is the rare Australian or Canadian buyer that did a European delivery, comments are welcomed. According to the literature, Australians have to collect their cars at one of several ports in Australia and Canadians can only pick up their cars at the port of Halifax.

    Charlie's whirlwind European tour

    Charlie Stalnaker's Saab typifies the a common experience. He ordered the car from his dealer in the United States, putting a deposit at the time of the order. Full payment was due six weeks before delivery. He ordered a 2004 Saab 9-3 Aero. Later, the factory asked if he would accept an automatic transmission, usually costing $1,400, at no charge due to production ending late in the model year. "Twist my arm harder", he thought (OK, sure!)

    Charlie picked up his car in June 2004. He was given a tour of the factory and then brought to ANA Trollhättan, the local dealer that was once owned by Saab but has been independent from Saab for many years. There, he started a grand tour of Europe seeing Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, and many countries in between. He stayed in Europe for nearly six months, returning the car to the port in Antwerp in January 2005.

    Charlie's Saab on its way to Corfu, Greece and displaying red Swedish tax-free license plates

    Upon return, Charlie did not have to pay California sales tax (similar to VAT or GST). This resulted in saving 8-9% in taxes in addition to the 9% discount for European delivery and a $2,000 stipend. The tax loophole was changed just after Charlie's car was shipped to California.

    Alone in a closed hotel
    My European delivery experience shows some possibilities with European delivery. It is possible to order the car from one dealer in the United States, drive the car in Europe, and have it shipped to another city in the United States. Both dealers receive payment from Saab for handling. I was moving soon. Rather than drive a small moving van and towing a car, I ordered my new Saab from a dealer in Seattle and had the car delivered to Miami. Ordering from one dealer and having the car shipped to another dealer might also help those whose dealer is not familiar with European delivery.

    I'm a firm believer of contingency plans so I inquired about what to do in case the taxi did not meet me at the airport. I was told to simply take a taxi and keep the receipt. Alas, no taxi driver was there. After waiting awhile, I took a taxi from Landvetter Airport, the main airport of Gothenburg to the Ronnum Manor hotel, about 100 km away.

    The taxi driver, who told me he was from Iraq, put my luggage on the sidewalk and sped away. The hotel was locked. It seems that the hotel is closed on Sundays, except during the summer. Luckily, there was a telephone by the door with a direct connection to Stockholm. They contacted the manager who allowed me to stay all alone at the hotel that night. The next day, Saab apologized and offered me another free night at the hotel, saving quite a bit of money.

    On the day of delivery, a free taxi to the factory was provided. There was a factory tour and the IDS representative, Johann, met me and arranged for a taxi to take us to the dealership. Here, he went over the car without haste, gave me a gift keychain and book, and help me buy a European spec mirror at a 20% discount to European delivery customers.

    My Swedish vacation was short due to my work schedule. I picked up the car on a Monday and returned it on a Wednesday. In contrast with Charlie's 6 month tour of Europe with his new Saab, mine was a mere two days. However, enjoy your Saab and consider not waiting until you have months of time because one may never have that much time to spare.

    My drop off point in Gothenburg was the Saab dealer. Dropping the car off in Gothenburg doesn't result in any additional charge but one could drop off the car at a number of other cities for an additional fee. The other four Saab owners opted to return their cars in Antwerp, which has the lowest return charge.

    History repeats itself
    Frank, the founder of Saabworld, bought a new Saab 9-3 one year after me. The European delivery Saab, like Charlie's, was his first Saab. This shows how the price advantage of a European delivery car can attract new buyers. It also shows how the many fond memories of a European delivery Saab can last years and create much good will.

    Frank took delivery of his car exactly 53 weeks after mine. History repeats itself. Somehow, his taxi did not show up and he went to the same hotel, which was closed on a Sunday! There was another little glitch when he found that his car was equipped with Swedish spec door handles, which are black, as opposed to the body colored handles, which are standard in the United States and optional in Sweden. He opted to have it resolved in the United States.

    Frank's Saab in front of the factory

    Frank's interesting travel itinerary is chronicled here http://saabworld.net/blogs/wulf/euro...ce-part-1-3-3/

    Frank was able to take advantage of visiting the Saab Car Museum, which waives the admission charge for European delivery customers.

    Austrian Saab taken to Sweden for delivery
    Matt, who works for a large aerospace company that used to be headquartered in Seattle, bought his 2005 Saab 9-3 convertible just weeks after mine. We kept in contact during this time and shared our excitement.

    Johann unveiling Matt's car about one month after he unveiled my Saab.

    At the time, convertibles were made in Austria under contract by Magna Steyr but Saab has since taken over production of all 9-3 cars, including convertibles. For Matt, that meant that his car was made in Austria and shipped to the Saab factory in Sweden for European delivery. Unfortunately for Matt, when he picked up his car at the end of June 2005, the factory temporarily stop giving tours citing that a batch of newly designed Saab 9-5 were being built at the time and they didn't want prying eyes seeing them.

    Matt kept me up to date about his fantastic trip taking the car to Antwerp, Belgium. Somehow, after dropping his car off in early July, the car was not put on a ship until early September. Jaye Trice, the Saab European Delivery coordinator in the United States, was apologetic and offered Matt a free wind deflector which retails for $500 and a voucher for $100 in accessories, as well as a request for the dealer to install a new battery.

    Matt still has his souvenir car and writes, "I still have very fond memories of that trip and am hoping to do something like that again someday...still have my Saab and it's doing great."

    Expatriates in Europe can use this program
    Jay, was an American expatriate living in Denmark in 2007. Before coming back to the United States, he arranged through a Cincinnati dealer, Just Saab, to purchase a new Saab. He worked with A. J. Murphy, who was interviewed by Saabworld earlier this year (see http://saabworld.net/content/manager...saabworld-233/)

    Jay had his Saab delivered in Copenhagen. Delivery in several European cities other than Trollhättan is possible with an additional charge. He took delivery of his car in July 2007 and spent a month driving to Italy. He only kept his car one month, returning it to Amsterdam and taking a flight back to the United States. He writes, "I highly recommend doing European Delivery, but do the factory pick up, and buy a Saab."

    All five of these Saab European delivery cars brought their owners many happy memories and saved some money, too. When I returned my car for shipment to the United States, the man at the Gothenburg dealership told me he used to process hundreds of European delivery customers per year but that the number had dropped significantly by 2005, when I bought my car. Multiply these fun times by the hundreds of customers who have done it and an loyal Saab customer base is created!

    Thanks to Matt for sharing his private photos. Thanks to Charlie for permission to use his photo. Charlie's account of his trip is published on his website, http://www.cstalnaker.com/Buying-a-Saab-in-Sweden.htm. Jay's story can be found here http://saabworld.net/f16/road-trips-epic-journeys-2034/
    This article was originally published in blog: Saab European Delivery Program: Well liked by Saab owners started by Dave T
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. nordwulf's Avatar
      nordwulf -
      This is the brochure I picked up from my Saab dealer and scanned it for the Archives a while ago. I don't know how many times I read it and I still enjoy looking through it.


      A few years from now, Saab will bring back EDP and we'll be able to do this all over again. Right? I'll take the new 2013 9-3 hatch or wagon with the 1.6 Turbo4 MT please. I normally wouldn't buy a new Saab but EDP is too good to pass up.

      Nice job in gathering all these experiences.
    1. Hirsch's Avatar
      Hirsch -
      Mine, brand new with 3 miles on the odometer at Saab Center, Andersen and Martini A/S, Copenhagen, DK July 2nd 2007

      185 miles later at home in Esbjerg, DK. From the east coast of Denmark to the west coast. It rained almost all the way home. Ten minutes after I pulled into my driveway, the sun came out!

      Somewhere on the Italian side of the Alps, stopped dead for an accident.
    1. Abarth's Avatar
      Abarth -
      Somewhere on the Italian side of the Alps, stopped dead for an accident.

      Looks like SoCal everyday rush hour traffic .....hehehe! Hirsch, have also been in a few 'Sig Alerts' here in California, one we were there for 2 hours awaiting a MedAlert Chopper landing and taking the injuried driver to the hospital.

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