Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I need a new car and EXPERIENCE

So I currently drive a 2006 Acura TL which has 110,000 miles on it. I tend to purchase a new car every 5 to 6 year since I always purchase the extended warranties and take full advantage of them. I have had a great experience with my Acura dealer over the past few years but I just feel that it’s time for a change. The service department has been good to me but in my opinion the Acura engineers have not been kind to Acura’s faithful consumers given their 2011 TL/RL/MDX seems as if they crashed into a Saturn head on. The grill just looks blah.

So in December 2010 I set out to do some online research to determine what my next car should be. I knew I was looking for a car that had to get decent gas mileage since I drive in excess of 100 miles a day for work. It has to be comfortable and responsive when I step on the gas in Washington, DC traffic. That ruled out any 4 cylinders and most hybrid cars. So my 20 something side of me took over and I started looking at sports sedans. I looked at a few coupes as well just to be fair. I went through Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Volvo. I narrowed it down to BMW and Mercedes.

I know what you are thinking; BMW and Mercedes owners always seem so snobby or are more concerned with their image than actual quality of a vehicle. So I decided to dig in. In my research I found that BMW had more flexible options and packaged service which is a plus for me. I have always wanted a BMW or Mercedes but just couldn’t justify the cost. So I dug in some more. BMW offers various packages with their vehicles and doesn’t do as much nickel and dime work like Mercedes does when building out a car online.

Price is always something to consider but when you have been fairly successful in life sometimes you just have to act out what the new BMW commercials say “I deserve this”. So off to the BMW dealership in Fairfax Virginia I went just before Christmas. It was a cold Saturday morning and I took my son with me to browse the lot. I was specifically going to see what the M3/3 Series and 535xi looked like in person and see just how much room they had inside them for passengers. As a father of 4 I never can get the entire family into my car, which is why we have my wife’s HUGE school bus SUV, but I wanted to ensure the kids (2 at a time) had leg room in the back for their projected growth for the next 5 to 6 years (my car buying cycle). The M3 sedan and the rest of the 3 series just didn’t have enough passenger room for them so I asked to take a look at the 535XI. The salesman just seemed put off that I told him I wasn’t looking to buy a new car until October 2011 and was reluctant to get the keys to the 535xi. I had to level with him and say “If I am going to put $70,000 USD into a car I want to do all of my market research months in advance.”

In an economy like this it is a consumer’s market and with that amount of money I told him he needs to make a time investment with me in order to protect the brand of BMW and keep me interested otherwise there is a Mercedes dealership down the road from my house in Fredericksburg, VA and they can have my business if Fairfax BMW didn’t want it. The guy went on to tell me how he was getting ready to retire in January 2011 when it clicked with me “He’s on the bus/checked out already/going through the motions.”. So I decided to have some fun with the old guy. I strapped my son into the back of the 535xi and with the salesman in the front seat we were off on our test drive. It was probably 30 degrees that day and the engine seems sluggish as if it were missing when I started it. We sat for a few minutes to let the car warm up and then we were off. We hit the main road and I put my foot into it. The 535xi has 300hp and it responded well seeing as my 06 Acura TL has around 250. The salesman looked over to me as if he wanted to say “please slow down”. But my son was in the back seat and I could see the big smile on his face so we kept on truckin. As we came to a red light I waited until the last minute and stomped on the brakes and sure enough ABS kicked in and we smoothly came to a stop. Again nasty looks from the salesman. I chatted with him and said I really would like to speak to the service manager as buying a car for me is an end to end experience and if the introduction experience didn’t go well then chances were I would take my $70,000 + elsewhere.

He then pointed me towards the service department and we drove over. I parked and was ready to get out when he looked at me and said “oh we don’t have an appointment so call me when you are ready to purchase and we’ll schedule one”. WTF??? So we drove around the service department as he blurted out facts about how it was the largest on the east coast blah blah blah. We arrived back at the dealership and after parking the car he took the keys and shook my hand as if he had better things to do with his time than mess around with some guy that wasn’t even buying a new car until after he had retired.

At that point I wrote off Fairfax BMW as not really caring about the consumer or brand and just wanting to make a quick sale. Frustrated I went home and did some deep dive research online about BMW dealerships in the area also searching for how to get the best price etc. I came across a site called which is filled with BMW enthusiasts around the world. I have spent countless hours on this site since I found it. Not a plug for them just tons of great information.

So I came across something called “European Delivery”. Hmmm wonder what this is. Well to make it easy you order your BMW through a dealership in the U.S. and take delivery of the car in Munich, Germany at the BMW Welt built in 2008. Hmmm interesting. <Rewind> - My wife and I went to Ocho Rios, Jamaica back in October 2010 for our 9 year anniversary and while there we talked about going to Europe for our 10 year anniversary. <Fast forward to now> so I think to myself <connecting the dots> hmmm I could order the car and pick it up in Germany and drive her to Rome for our 10 year anniversary. <SCORE – WIN WIN>.

Last Friday I was working in Reston, VA and was getting ready to make the 70 mile trek home from work and I thought “Hey, that guy at Fairfax was a douche but I bet they have some hand out info on European Delivery”. I swung in to the dealership since it was on my way home. I walked in and asked to speak to a sales person. I met the guy and he seemed nice and invited me into his office. I explained my situation, as I did to his co-worker the previous month, and low and behold the older guy no longer worked there. (Good news for the dealership in my opinion). We chatted for a bit and after 30 minutes had gone by we walked out to find a 5 series with the M Sport package. They had a 550xi loaded on the showroom floor with a sticker of $75,575. Whoa throw taxes on that thing, and the other fees, and that’s over $80,000. NO WAY AM I PAYING THAT. Then I remembered why I was there, European Delivery. So we dug in to the car and talked some more, I sat in the front and back and checked it out. I was so amazed with everything I completely forgot to ask anything else about ED so I headed home to have a late dinner with my wife and kids and thanked him for his help changing my mind about the brand and their dealership.

Digging in further into European Delivery (ED) online last weekend I found the information to point to it being more cost efficient than using car buy services like I have in the past from Costco and USAA. I have called 2 dealerships in my area and both do ED. I spent a few hours this past Sunday building out the car I want, tracking down the European Delivery Wholesale Invoice Pricing and finding out how much the dealership would make. On average the info I found shows a dealer will make between $500-$1500 just for doing the paperwork to order the car/taxes/license/tags etc for you. Hmm not bad for a couple hours of work and I save almost $7,000 on the price of the car, which would help finance the European anniversary trip.

I spent some time building out a schedule of when we could fly over to take delivery, where we would go, what we would see, where we would stay, and of course doing a full scale financial analysis of what the trip would cost. I put it all into excel along with our financials and if we could actually afford this car. All signs pointed to YES. I called and spoke with a dealer in Maryland and walked through what I was looking for and told him I wasn’t willing to pay more than $1,000 to the dealership for ED. This guy’s name is written in GOLD on the bimmerfest forum and he was a genuine guy on the phone so he and I will be sitting down in late Feb to walk through the process end to end to see if he can meet my offer.

I am currently scheduled to have a test drive of the 550xi with M Sport/Prem 2/HUD this Saturday. I’m going to take my 2 older daughters with me for the experience. I also plan to have a list of questions ready for the salesman at Fairfax BMW (the dealership I am test driving at) around ED and what my terms are for $1,000 over ED Wholesale Pricing.
More to follow…..

No comments:

Post a Comment