Volvo Overseas Delivery Experience

The chance to drive through Europe is a dream many of us share.  Most recently my wife, Sandi, and I had the opportunity to live out that dream as we participated in Volvo's Overseas Delivery process (OSD), which happens to be the most-used of the European-delivery services offered by several automakers based on the Continent.  As outlined in the two-part feature "Take Your Car on Vacation" that ran here at Driving Today the past two weeks, our adventure was idyllic.  I'm a veteran of many a driving trip in my 20-plus years in this business, but I'm hard-pressed to think of any that was more enjoyable from start to finish.  The combination of vehicle, route, sightseeing opportunities, accommodations, restaurants and other attractions was simply stellar, and I think Sandi and I would repeat the trip in a Stockholm-second if we could.  But you could well be asking, was this an anomaly?  Was the trip a fluke of good-timing or was it a reliable, repeatable bounty of fun that you and yours would also enjoy?

The answer to that seems to be the latter.  Volvo says its surveys indicate more than 95 percent of its OSD customers are "highly satisfied," and a large number of individual testimonials from Volvo's customers are equally positive about the experience.  Frequently the process is described by its buyers as "too good to be true."  We'll let you judge that for yourself, but the essential facts, which we will lay out next, are pretty compelling.

First, if you purchase by Overseas Delivery, you will get a "one-price, no-haggle" deal from your local dealer that is eight percent below the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP.)  While the very best negotiators among us on their very best days might be able to better this net price on some of the models in the Volvo line, for most buyers this, in itself, is a screaming deal.  But in addition to that, buyers taking part in OSD get additional advantages, the key one being two roundtrip tickets from their home city to Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo's home.

Once you land in Sweden, you and your group are picked up at the airport by a Volvo limousine and deposited at a first-class hotel -- currently the SAS Radisson -- in Gothenburg for a complimentary overnight stay.  The following day your group is shuttled by limo to the Volvo headquarters complex where you can tour the famous Volvo Cars Safety Center or the factory where your Volvo has just been built.

After that immersion, you might be itching to take delivery and hit the road, but not so fast.  First, you should indulge in a classic Swedish lunch at the Scandinavian-modern Volvo Delivery Center.  (Yes, Swedish meatballs are on the buffet.)  Then stand by as your English-speaking delivery expert explains the simple paperwork, the included European insurance coverage and the nuances of your new Volvo. 

That done, you are ready to take command of your vehicle and venture out onto the Swedish road system.  Many Volvo OSD patrons confine their journey to Sweden, but the whole European Continent is at your beck and call.  Volvo also offers a wide variety of packaged tours -- hotels, meals and other amenities -- at what appear to be bargain prices.  You can get the latest on these offerings by logging onto the VolvoCars Web site.

Drive around Sweden for a couple of days, venture to Europe for several weeks or keep the car with you for an extended time in Europe (as long as six months.)  When your overseas journey ends, you don't have to return the car to Gothenburg for shipment back to the United States.  Instead, you can drop the vehicle off at one of some 20 drop-off points across Europe.  If you return the vehicle to Gothenburg or to Volvo's shipping center in Bremerhaven, Germany, there are no shipping charges at all for its passage to the U.S.  If you use one of the other drop-off points, you pay for the vehicle to be transported to the European port for overseas shipping, usually a matter of a few hundred dollars.

Meanwhile, your sojourn in Europe over, you and your guest fly back to your home city via Scandinavian Airlines and its partners.  At the same time, your Volvo is beginning its journey to rejoin you. In eight to 10 weeks time your Volvo arrives at your local dealer ready for you to take delivery again.  

Are there downsides?  The only one that jumps to mind after participating in the OSD experience is timing.  First, you must order your new Volvo from the local dealer of your choosing at least eight weeks prior to your desired travel time.  Then, at the conclusion of your overseas adventure you won't have the use of your new car until eight to 10 weeks after your return.  But with proper planning these hurdles can easily be overcome.  And the benefit is not only the purchase of a fine vehicle but also the opportunity to go on a European vacation that almost pays for itself.

Driving Today Managing Editor Jack R. Nerad has been a frequent visitor to Europe on reporting assignments since the 1980's, but he still doesn't like schnitzel.