Saab European Delivery Program Experience

Posted on 02. Feb, 2007 by in 2000-2009, 9-3 SS

Frank Wulfers of California has recently provided an extremely well written and thorough writeup of his experience taking a brand new Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan through the Saab European Delivery Program.

Here is the writeup in his own words.

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…

Travel to Trollhattan

March 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
March 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.

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. I am originally from Holland and it’s hard to give an objective touristic view of your own country.

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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.

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

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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 back 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.

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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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For more information on the Saab European Delivery program, please visit my post on the process http://www.saabhistory.com/2007/01/15/saab-european-delivery-program/

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