(7/13 Update: Car arrived at local dealer today in Boston, MA. They said 4-6 weeks but it took 21 days total from drop off in Munich)
I just got back from picking up my new S6 at the factory. I stayed for two weeks, traveling through Bavaria, Austria, and Italy with my wife and 9 year old son. Here are some tips from our experience....
Make sure you let your credit card companies know you will be using the card abroad. Otherwise they may freeze it while your over there. And ask them if there is a surcharge on European charges. My Citi Visa surcharged 3%, and my MC did not have any surcharge. Make sure you check. I did a lot of research on my first ED trip a few years ago and the best way to pick up Euros is with my ATM card. The best rate and no surcharges.
I did the ED program for Volvo 2 years ago, and the delivery center seemed to be focused on handling delivery to customers from the U.S. Very polished with many people there to handle any issues that arose. However the showroom at the Audi Forum where you pick up your car delivers around 50 cars a day, mostly to Europeans whom they offer the same deal (tour. lunch, etc) without the 5% discount. The general staff, while friendly and helpful, are not that familiar with the nuances associated with the Audi U.S. European delivery program. So beware that if you run into issues (see missing GPS system later in this article), there were very few people there that were familiar with the specifics of the U.S. program.
DONT LET YOUR DEALER CHARGE YOU A "DESTINATION CHARGE": My dealer tried to charge me $750 destination charge (the charge for transporting your car from the US port to your local dealer) arguing that it was not included in the program. I had to show him in two different places in the ED literature that it was included in the purchase price, and he begrudgingly deleted the fee. Real sleezeball tactic.
Your Audi Dealer, Audi of America, and the Audi in Germany are actually 3 different companies with operating agreements. Neither really stands by the representations of the other. Know that your agreement for your ED purchase is with Audi of America, and not with your local Audi dealer or Audi in Inglostadt!
Now for the trip:
Assuming you are leaving the U.S. in the eve, arriving in Munich in the A.M., and picking up your car on the second day there, here are some initial tips.
Why waste your first day staying in Ingolstadt (no offense), when you can see Munich. You arive in Munich early in the morning and have the whole day in front of you. this is what I recommend:
- There is a third hotel option which is not listed in the literature that you can request. You can ask to stay at the Kempinski Hotel at the Munich airport. They will also pick you up here in the limo, just like from the other two hotels. However staying here has many advantages over the two in Ingolstadt.
*The first is that the hotels entrance is about 100 yards from the luggage pickup area, so you can keep your luggage on your push cart (which are free by the way), and wheel your stuff right up to hotel registration. This is fantastic when you are groggy getting off the plane. You are checked into your room within 15 minutes of going through customs.
* The second is that the hotel is large and modern (see picture in link), with all expected amenities and services, and looks really cool with a 100' high front lobby area. As a matter of fact, Audi had a few conventions staying here that were celebrating the roll out of the new R8.
* The third is that the hotel entrance is about 200 feet from the express train which takes you to downtown Munich in about 30 minutes. You can buy an all day pass for one person for about $20, or a family pass for up to 4 for only $24 total. Is was much more convenient for checking out Munich without the hassles of driving into and parking in Munich.
* If you want to really feel like your in Munich, visit the beer garden which is next to the Chinese Pagota in the English Gardens (see photo). This is where they play the um pa German music and you can drink steins of beer and eat traditional German food in a gorgeous outdoor setting with hundreds of Germans. Not to be missed.
* The day of the pickup, try to book an early pickup as the restaurant at the Audi Forum is fantastic and you can eat a huge breakfast for free (actually, food is free here all day for you...as many visits and food/drink as you want). You can eat breakfast and then go back for lunch after the tour.
* Your GPS system wont work in Europe. However I was told by the US ED representative that they would arrange it so that when I picked up the car, I would receive a portable unit that I could use while in Europe and return at the end of the trip. However when picking up the car, the people handling the delivery didnt know what I was talking about. And since it was promised to me by Audi of America, the delivery center felt no obligation to oblige or offer any compensation. I was very frustrated by that.
* If you are driving into Italy, make sure you ask the delivery people for the two yellow "breakdown" jackets you will need to show the Italian police if they pull you over. They are free and you will be ticketed if you dont have them.
- If you bought the iPod connection option, you will still need to buy the cord that connects your iPod to the unit in the glove compartment. Luckily, they sell them in the Audi souvinere store for about $30.
* Also make sure they give you the info of who you are supposed to call if you have car problems wile in Europe. They feature this service in the ED literature but after I left the factory, I discovered they didnt give me any emergency contact info. And contacting the delivery desk once you leave is almost impossible.
* The car was missing the Audi medical kit that is supposed to be stored in the rear armrest. Make sure your car has yours.
* Both the museum and factory tour were very interesting and not to be missed.
* Make sure they take a photo of you with your car (as shown above) before pulling out of the showroom. Its a free service and they print at 8.5 x 11!
* Italian drop off warning...Italy is the only country where you cant drop off the car at a location where it is then flatbedded to the train or ship. In Italy, they have a driver pick it up at your hotel, and then drives it all the way back to Munich!!! No thank you please. Not in my new S6!!! My wife and son flew back from Florence and I drove it back to Munich myself and then flew home from Munich.
* Ask for your license plate when you drop off your car and you can bring it home as a souvenere!
- I was stopped by police twice, once in Germany and once in Italy, both times going over 120mph, and never received a ticket. They checked my documentation, asked me questions about the cars performance, and then let me on my way! I did get the car up to 150mph twice in Germany, much to my wife's dismay!
Outstanding Hotel Tip if your in Northern Italy:
Hotel Villa Del Sogno located on the Gardone Riviera (see pictures in link). Right on a lake with stunning views and grounds, friendly staff and great food. It was the highlight of our two week trip. Check it out online. It looks even better when there!
* When driving on European Highways, you will notice that no-one passes on the right. I came to learn that there are heavy fees for doing so. Be patient and the car in front of you will pull over to the right (I wish we were this discipled here!)
Well, Ill add more tips if I think of them!
Good luck, drive carefully and have fun!
(more photos below)