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  1. #1
    Frank
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    2006 Saab 9-3 - European Delivery

    A long time ago in a Saab Universe far, far away.. This happened almost 10 years ago and I still think back with very fond memories.



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    The story begins
    February 18, 2006

    I never really considered buying a Saab. That was probably because I did not know much about them. Aren't those the quirky, different looking cars from northern Europe? When I was checking out dealerships for a replacement of my current SUV, I test-drove a Saab 9-3. One short drive and I think I was sold. I just couldn't take my eyes of the SID. How cool is that, eh?

    After some research, I discovered Saab offers a european delivery program where you can order a new car at your local dealer and have it delivered at the factory in Sweden (or many other cities in Europe). You can drive it around for a while, have it shipped back to the USA and pick it up at your local dealer after a coupe of months.

    Saab covers the cost of return shipping, you receive a discount on the price of the car and even get $2000 towards travel expenses. What's not to like?

    Dealer visit
    February 25, 2006

    It was time to check out the Saab dealer in Mission Viejo, CA. For American standards, it's a fairly small dealer but it has a friendly, personal feel. A friendly salesman helped me, answered all my questions and explained everything I needed to know. No pressure, it looks like they are not trying to push cars at this dealership. So with literature in hand, I left with many things to think about.

    I was planning a trip to Europe in May anyways so there couldn't be a better opportunity to take advantage of this European Delivery program.

    Where do I sign?
    March 5, 2006

    I finally made up my mind (these things go slow with me). I was ready to take a test-drive of a 2006 Saab 9-3 sedan and see if I still liked it. The 2006 was even nicer to drive than the 2003 I drove a couple of weeks ago. The new models come with more standard equipment and more powerful engines. I was sold. Where do I sign?

    My new car will have the 2.0 liter turbo engine. Besides the generous standard equipment, I also ordered the automatic transmission, power sunroof and metallic paint as optional equipment. The exterior color is Fusion Blue (somewhere between light and dark blue) with a Slate Grey leather interior.

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    Total price in this configuration is $29,720. With the European Delivery program, the sale price is $26,510. This does not include the $2000 travel assistance check Saab will send you a couple of weeks before you pick up the car.

    The pickup date at the factory in Trollhättan is set for Monday May 15th. This program requires putting in the order 6 - 8 weeks before the pickup date. A minimum deposit of $1000 is required at time of order.

    Package received from Saab
    March 17, 2006

    A large envelope from Saab's USA main office arrived with information about the International & Diplomat Sales program, together with a Customer Order Confirmation. Everything seems very organized and right on track.

    The waiting is the hard part. Here in the USA, it is possible to walk into a dealership, choose a new car on the lot, arrange financing, trade-in your vehicle and drive off with your new purchase all within the same day. This delivery in Europe takes much longer..

    Full payment
    April 8, 2006

    Full payment is required 4 weeks before the car is picked up in Europe. It can be a little tricky to arrange financing. Many financial institutions require registration of the car at time of purchase, together with a lien on the vehicle. When full payment to Saab is required, the car is not even manufactured yet. Strangely enough, Saab's own financing company doesn't even offer financing for IDS sales.

    To make a long story short, there are a few ways "around" this issue and financing was no problem. The waiting continues..

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    My car is born

    April 17, 2006

    The dealership told me the car was going to be built this week. Somewhere far away, people and machines are manufacturing and assembling parts to make my own car. Quite exciting. I am getting too involved in this entire process.. It won't be long before I start thinking of a name for her.

    Travel assistance check received
    April 30, 2006

    The check for the $2000 travel assistance payment arrived in the mail. The letter also shows the VIN so my new car has been brought into this world. Still thinking of a name...

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  2. #2
    Frank
    Administrator nordwulf's Avatar
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    Travel to Trollhattan
    May 14, 2006

    I checked with the IDS coordinator for Saab USA 5 days before I left to make sure they received my travel information and everything was all set. They confirmed receipt of my travel info and a driver would be at the airport.

    After a long flight (Santa Ana, CA --> Chicago --> Frankfurt --> Gothenburg), I arrived at the airport of Gothenburg. Unfortunately, no driver from Saab waiting for me ... After an hour, I decided to take a taxi to Ronnums Herrgard which is about 70 miles from Goteburg. Arriving at the hotel, I discovered it is closed on Sundays.. I wish Saab would tell you beforehand you won't be staying there if you arrive on a Sunday.

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    I was lucky to be able to reach someone from the hotel because my taxi already left. They were very helpfull and sent over the groundskeeper to give me a key and let me into the hotel. Not what I expected for the first night but at least I had a place to stay. Of course, the restaurant is closed on Sundays as well so no dinner for me that night. I found a supermarket near the hotel where I was able to get a sandwich and some other things.

    Picking up my new car
    May 15, 2006

    The hotel already contacted SAAB ANA (the dealer where they handle IDS deliveries) and arranged for a taxi to take me there. Later at the dealership, Monica (the IDS coordinator) told me she never received the information from Saab USA about my arrival. The first time she heard I was coming this day was when she received a call from the hotel. She was very nice about it and immediately offered to pay for the taxi fare (about $200).

    My new car was waiting in the delivery area of the dealership, among several other cars for local customers. Monica showed everything about my new car I needed to know. After that, we went through all the paperwork and signing of the necessary documents. I was there for about 1 and a 1/2 hours so there was enough time, nothing was rushed.

    There was a mistake made with the order entry of my car. They forgot to enter the body-colored door handles into the system. We agreed it would be best to have this corrected by my dealer in California. My advice is to make sure you're familiar with the standard equipment of USA-spec cars and check when you take delivery.

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    Please note: My experience with these few problems are an exception to the rule. Saab does hundreds of IDS deliveries a year and I am sure most of them go smoothly. As with anything, there is a possibility for problems but don't let it ruin your vacation and enjoying your new car.

    After leaving the dealership, I drove to the nearby factory for the factory tour. The tour started at the welcome center for a brief overview of Saab history. The actual tour starts at the stamping plant and goes through the entire production process. It was very interesting to see how the chassis with wheels, engine etc is joined with the car body coming from high above the factory floor. The plant is very clean and pretty quiet. A unique experience to see how cars are manufactured and I highly recommend taking this tour if you take delivery of your new Saab in Trollhattan.

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    The Saab museum was the next stop and is only a short drive from the factory. It is not very big but gives a nice overview of the history and future of Saab vehicles. Entrance is free when you mention you are an IDS customer.

    Travel through Scandinavia
    May 15 - 20, 2006

    I spent the first week of my European adventure in Scandinavia. After I was done in Trollhattan, I headed to Oslo. Next stop was Bergen. All the fjords in this area are simply breathtaking. Nothing can prepare you for seeing these majestic mountains with beautiful clear waters. Wow.

    The days are pretty long at these latitudes. I kept thinking of the movie Insomnia (the first Norwegian version) when daylight finally fades around 11:00pm. The sun greets you again around 4:00am so nights are pretty short. I still need to experience the midnight sun some time.

    From the fjords, I headed southeast following the road along the Jostedalsbreen glacier. It’s the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe and there was still a lot of snow left. The temperature hovered around freezing so the snow was not going anywhere soon.

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    Back again through Sweden. I didn’t see a whole lot of Sweden but made a little detour from the highway through the southern part (Skåne). The landscape around Trollhättan with all the lakes and rocky shores was remarkably similar to what you find in the U.P. of Michigan and Ontario around Lake Superior. That could be the reason so many Scandinavians emigrated to that area (and Minnesota as well). Strange to see a landscape so familiar so far away from home.

    From Sweden to Denmark over the Öresund link, a combination of a long bridge and tunnel. Quite an engineering accomplishment. Denmark took me to Germany where I had the opportunity to try out the top speed. I was able to get the 9-3 over the magical mark of 200 km/h (125 mph) for just a minute or so. The wet road surface and many vacationers with caravans (travel trailers for you Americans) limited the fast-driving experience. Northern Germany passed by quickly after which I crossed the border with Holland.

    Week in Holland
    May 21 - 28, 2006

    The second week was in Holland for visiting family and friends. Just a few places to visit so not much to report as far as sightseeing goes.

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    England and Wales
    May 29 - June 5, 2006

    From Holland, I took the ferry to England (IJmuiden - Newcastle) which was an overnight trip. I drove from Newcastle along the Scottish border towards the west coast. Through the Lake District and south to Liverpool. Interesting city, lot of history as well. Onwards to Wales.

    It’s very interesting to listen to Welsh radio stations. They say Dutch is a hard language to learn but Welsh seems to be up there as well.

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    The area around the Snowdon mountains is beautiful. There are too many castles to visit but I was able to explore some. From there I headed south to Cardiff and then on towards Stonehenge. I expected it to be a very touristic but it is one of those things you have to see at least once in your life. And yes, there were a lot of tour buses and large groups of people

    Looking back, I enjoyed visiting the much smaller Castlerigg stone circle in the Lake District more due to the solitude in that location.

    Dropping of the car in London
    June 6, 2006

    The agent for the UK is located near Heathrow airport. It is a small office inside the Renaissance Hotel. All paperwork was handled quickly and efficient. The handling fee had to be paid in cash and came to GBP 215. I also had to hand over my keys and say goodbye to my car. "So long my friend, see you in a couple of months!" I wanted to shout to my Fusion-Blue companion with tears in my eyes but I was able to compose myself.

    I have driven a total of 3651 miles with an average of 28.2 miles per gallon (US). Not bad at all. I just shouldn't think about the $9 per gallon I paid on average throughout my trip. Ah well, how often can you drive your own car through the most beautiful places in Europe, right?

    From the hotel, I took the Hoppa hotel bus to the airport where the Underground took me to the centre of London. Just a few more days in London and then back home. It was all over but the memory and pictures will last a lifetime.

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  3. #3
    Dave T.
    Super Moderator Dave T's Avatar
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    Ha ha! The same thing happened to me a year earlier than you. Apparently, the problem hasn't been solved!

    Before going, I asked Jaye, the person in Saab's U.S. headquarters (near Atlanta at the time) what to do if the driver did not meet me at the airport. She said to wait a reasonable amount of time then take a taxi and save the receipt. That question to her paid back as never was I anxious when I arrived at Landvetter Airport in Gothenburg. There is a second airport, Gothenburg City Airport in Säve, north of the city but only Ryanair flies there. I let Saab know that I would be flying into Landvetter, the main airport east of the city towards Borås. Before going to the taxi stand, I looked online to get directions. Again, such planning was useful.

    The taxi driver was Iraqi and spoke little English. However, I wrote down the directions in Swedish and sort of knew how to get there, having visited Trollhättan several years earlier. He drove me to the hotel threw my bags on the ground (in retaliation for the capture of Saddam, just kidding) and drove away really fast before I could say "Hej dä, tack sä mycket!" (sort of "see you, thanks a lot"). Like Wulf's experience, it was a SUNDAY. The hotel is closed on Sundays except for part of the summer. The hotel door is locked completely shut! I was going to yell at the taxi driver in Arabic, "khol khara!", but he was already a mile away. (khol khara is an Arabic profanity meaning eat doggy do-do)

    Unlike Wulf, it was already night and the nearby grocery store was closed. I did have some food in my luggage. But where to sleep, in the bushes? Luckily, I called Stockholm and they kindly contacted the manager. Rather than say "that's not in my job description", she opened the hotel up and let me stay that night. As a consolation prize, Monica Petersson, who ran the IDS office at ANA Trollhättan (but has since left the job), arranged for an additional free night stay the next day.

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  4. #4
    Frank
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    When I was patiently waiting at Landvetter, I saw several couples being welcomed by someone with a Volvo sign. I think I must have waited a more than an hour, maybe two. I didn't know if I would be reimbursed for the taxi fare but what can you do? I thought they were waiting at the hotel for me and didn't want to be late.

    My taxi driver was a friendly Swede who spoke pretty good English. On a side note, everybody in Sweden and Norway had good knowledge of English and they were even happy to speak and listen to it. Try that in Southern Europe. Ha!

    When I arrived at the hotel, the first door to the small glass entrance area was open. There was an intercom which connected to some kind of main office, possibly in Goteborg or Stockholm. The problem was, it would only work for a few minutes at a time after which it simply hung up. So it must have taken at least 8 separate conversations so they could let me know someone was on his way to let me in. I got a very nice room though and it was kind of nice because it was so quiet there. But I still find it a bit odd a large hotel like that would completely close on a Sunday.

    Monica offered me an extra night stay at the hotel and was glad to reimburse for the taxi fare. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay another night because I wanted to head up to Norway. It was an odd but memorable beginning of the EDP adventure.

    I do need to go back some time and actually see Trollhattan. Besides the factory, Saab ANA and the Saab museum, I didn't spend much time there. I didn't see much of Sweden either so enough reason to go back soon.

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  5. #5
    Frank
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    Back in the USA

    Tracking the car
    June 9, 2006

    It was too bad I was not able to take the car with me on the plane but that would probably cost more than the purchase price of the car. So the waiting starts..

    Fortunately, there is a way to track the car and find out how it will make its way across the ocean. Most Saab vehicles are shipped by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. To find out more about the shipping schedule for your car, go to the tracking page:

    1) go to www.2wglobal.com
    2) click on Customer Centre and Cargo Tracking
    3) click on Auto Cargo
    4) enter your vehicle VIN in the Cargo ID field.
    5) Click on Track and you will see the name of the vessel, port of origin and destination among other things.

    My vehicle shows up as:

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    On the website, you can click on the Voyage number to see details about the schedule, including the ports this ship will visit.

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    My car will be put on the vessel in Southhampton in about 10 days and will arrive on June 12th at Port Hueneme north of Los Angeles. So it seems the estimate of 6 - 7 weeks after drop-off in Europe is an accurate estimate.

    Picture of Isolde found online

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    On the boat
    June 19, 2006

    The car has been loaded on the ship. It's still a long time away before it reaches California but at least it's moving again. Every day a little bit closer.

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    Arrival at the port in the USA
    July 12, 2006

    At last, she made it to shore in California.

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    Arrival at dealership
    July 18, 2006

    Almost home. It arrived at the dealership in Mission Viejo waiting for the finance check clearance (they were a bit slow in cashing the check from 3 months ago..), clean up from the long trip and a quick visit to the service department to have the daytime running lights disabled.

    Delivery
    July 21, 2006

    At last, today is the day for picking up my car at the dealership. After signing the necessary forms, I could finally drive my car again that I dropped off in London exactly 7 weeks ago. It seems more like 7 months! It took 20 weeks from order to delivery in California so you definitely need patience with the European Delivery Program.

    Would I do it again? Most definitely. It might not be the fastest, most expensive, most exclusive car in California but how many people do you know that toured the factory where their car was made, have driven their own car along glaciers in Norway, crossed the Oresund link from Sweden to Denmark, experienced the autobahn in Germany, driven along the canals in Amsterdam, crossed the North Sea, visited ancient castles in Wales and photographed their car with Stonehenge in the background?

    What a trip, I can't wait to do it all over again some day.

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