Saab and Volvo Make Changes to Overseas Delivery Programs for 2008
By Kevin Miller
For nearly four decades, both Saab and Volvo have quietly offered North American consumers the opportunity to take delivery of their cars at the factory in Sweden. Tourists and US military stationed overseas could take advantage of this program which offers a cost savings over stateside MSRP, and typically includes 15 days insurance coverage on the car as well as complimentary shipment back home when the buyer’s European tour is completed. These programs can be an enjoyable way to visit Europe and save money on your new car, which you then get to drive around Europe.
For 2008, both Swedish automakers have made some changes to their programs. Unfortunately, Saab’s change is not immediately for the better. Saab has made their European Delivery program “inactive” for 2008; in other words, it is cancelled for the year. Jan-Willem Vester, the Manager of Saab Automobile USA Corporate Communications, indicated that Saab is working to enhance the program for 2009. If you had been planning on breaking in your new Turbo X in Sweden this summer, you’ll need to reset your expectations.
As a part of their now-inactive Overseas Delivery program, Saab offered a vehicle price below MSRP and a travel stipend to customers, as well as ground transportation to the factory and a night in a hotel in Trollhättan. As recently as last winter, Saab had been offering unique, extra-cost tourism packages to customers as add-ons to simply touring the factory when picking up their car. During winters of 2006 and 2007, the Saab Ice Experience was a vacation like no other, with four nights lodging – including one night at the Nordic Light Design Hotel in Stockholm, and one night at the world-famous ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi – plus a snowmobile safari, gourmet meals, dogsled rides, Saab performance driving in winter conditions, and more. Following the trip, participants could take delivery of their new Saab vehicle in Trollhättan. Hopefully these unique opportunities will be continued with the program’s 2009 re-introduction.
Meanwhile, for 2008 Volvo is introducing a pilot program which is available only at their top 25 Overseas Delivery retailers. In order to meet the increasing demand from their premium customers and to further distinguish OSD from the retail channel, Volvo will make all factory exterior vehicle colors available for all custom built cars. The regular Volvo retailer channel in North America is normally limited to ~8 colors per car in order to simplify the offer to the end customer and limit the need to stock different colors on dealer lots. These restrictions don’t apply to the custom built cars through Overseas Delivery.
Volvo has indicated to those top 25 OSD retailers that if the program is well received, it may be expanded to include custom-build OSD vehicles from additional retailers for MY2009. As the program now stands, this is a great way to get a new Volvo in a color other than black, white and 4 shades of beige and gray Volvo typically offers North American customers.
Volvo’s standard OSD program includes round-trip tickets for two people to Sweden, one free night in a hotel in Gothenburg, lunch at the Factory Delivery Center, and a tour of Volvo’s museum or factory. This is in addition to an approximately 8 percent discount over MSRP. Volvo also offers limited Winter Travel Specials to other parts of Europe, as well as a number of tours through their Overseas Adventure program, where consumers pick up their car at the Factory Delivery Center and then follow a set itinerary for a pre-determined number of days to explore various parts of Scandinavia or Europe.
Of course, if Volvo begins building vehicles in North America, the option of picking certain models in Sweden may cease to exist, as only vehicles built in Europe can be picked up there. Saab’s 9-7x and 9-2x were never available for Overseas Delivery for that reason. However, on vehicles available for OSD programs, the cost savings, the chance to customize your car’s features, and the opportunity to drive the car in its homeland can transform the purchase of a new vehicle into an enjoyable vacation.
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