Volvo European Delivery

Our experience with Volvo’s European Delivery Program

I wanted to document our recent trip to Sweden to pick up our new XC90. It was an incredible experience. Volvo does a great job in creating a great brand experience. As we tell people about this, I’m always surprised to hear how many people don’t know that a program like this exists. Hoping this blog helps you decide if it’s something you should do!

Volvo XC90

Deciding on the Volvo:

We started looking at options to replace our aging SUV, mostly focusing on mid to large size SUV that rode like a car, a good tech interface and a good safety record. We looked at the X5, Cayenne, Lexus RX, Q5 & Q7. We weren’t in a hurry so we took our time with our research and test drives. We kept on comparing the features in the other cars to the features we saw in the XC90 (panoramic roof, apple car play, android auto, emergency braking, option for 7 seats). During this research time I also began to read up on the European delivery options and who provided the best deal for them. It was clear that Volvo still offered the best deal (2 premium class tickets, airport pickup, hotel stay, dinner, breakfast, lunch, factory tour, insurance for the car). This is when I started to convince my wife that it was a good idea. She was skeptical at first, but warmed up to the idea when she saw no end in me explaining what a cool experience it could be. It was also great in that our local dealer down the street had one of the OSD experts in the area that even ran a website about the nuts and bolts of OSD. Once we met with William our OSD delivery contact, the decision was made much easier for us to go with this option… why not! Here’s a summary of how it worked for us.

11/26: Met with William to discuss the OSD experience and get more questions answered about the cars.
11/26–12/17: Research on what options to get.

We decided to get the following: T6 (7 seater), Momentum plus (my wife preferred the seats in the Momentum over the Inscription and I read it also holds up a bit better than the Nappa leather), air suspension (ride quality was much better), HUD (mostly because I thought it would be useful when using pilot assist), 20" matte diamond spoke wheels (wife really liked them over the stock), convenience package, vision package, onyx black paint, charcoal seats, black headliners (for even color inside).

We had a few accessories in mind but wanted to order them separately and pay at pickup at the factory (it was a bit cheaper and no extra tax).

Accessories we got: Mud flaps (front and back), luggage cover, all weather mats for all the rows and trunk, sports pedals. I asked them to install all of these in advance so it was ready to go when we picked up the car at the factory.

12/17: Placed the Order ($2k deposit)
12/21: Order confirmed

We both had scheduled time off at the end of May so we decided to push our factory delivery to the end of May.

About 15 days later we received our confirmation package which included instructions on how to book our travel, order confirmation sheet, some fun facts about western Sweden and information about factory delivery and drop off. Since we got the order confirmation before the packet arrived, I actually called the travel agency in advance to start planning our flights and hotel stay because our time was very restricted (we wanted to fly out on a specific date and come back on a specific date) and wanted to maximize our time because of our schedule.

Travel planning!

Volvo uses a travel agency out of Chicago (CorpTrav), they were great to work with. They helped us with both booking the flights and arranging the details for the Hotel (Clarion Post). Volvo has partnerships with British Airways and SAS. They fly you on premium economy class on both airlines. We wanted to visit Copenhagen, Gothenburg (obviously), Stockholm and somewhere else in either eastern or southern Europe. We decided on Nice (French riviera) as the location when we found out that Volvo was willing to fly us back from there. It seems like there is a budget Volvo gives CorpTrav and as far as the to and from tickets are under that amount, they can be flexible. We were able to get a direct flight to Copenhagen, take an extra long layover (25 hours) then fly into Gothenburg for the factory delivery experience. We planned to then fly on our own dime to Stockholm (Norwegian Air) and then to Nice on our own (Norwegian Air). The flights to Stockholm and Nice were relatively cheap (it’s kind of weird but if you book and pay using NOK currency and using Norwegian as the language it comes out to be cheaper than by changing the language to English, save a little bit thanks to Google Translate). Once we booked our travel (in early January) we contacted the factory delivery center right away to let them know of our flights and to also requested an early delivery time (which we got and recommend to others). The planning was a relatively simple and quick process thanks to the prompt responses from the travel agency. The hard part was waiting another 5 months before we could start our OSD experience. The time was good though to plan out some details on where to go and learn about other OSD experiences from other people on the Volvo discussion board. The board was super helpful and a great way to get excited learn tips from OSD veterans.


5 months later…

We got notice from our dealer that our VIN was issued (our car’s build date was April 12), which is when we had to pay the remaining amount due (either via cash or financing). If you choose the financing option, Volvo can help with the financing or you can look outside to find financing. Not many banks will work with the overseas delivery process because you will need to send them a title within 30 days (which is not possible with OSD). Many people on the OSD board used a company called PenFed (Pentagon Federal) for financing which allows for flexibility by allowing up to 150 days to get them the title.

Having gone through other car buying process a few times, it was amusing to see that this was the last time we were going to visit our dealer without coming back home without a car!

Travel!

After 160 days of waiting we were ready to get our adventure started! 1st leg was to Copenhagen.

We flew SAS to Copenhagen. Volvo does give you an upgrade to SAS Plus (premium economy). It does come with some perks starting at the airport like priority check in, priority baggage (and extra baggage too I believe), fast track at security line, access to SAS lounge if you airport has one (our’s didn’t) and priority boarding. The seats are right behind business in a 2–3–2 format (tip: try to get the 1st row of SAS plus). The seats we got were spacious, my wife really loved the Hästens blanket and bottle of water at each seat. The SAS plus seats also come with free wifi (it didn’t work for us though both ways). The entertainment system on the plane was a bit lacking in variety of content but not too bad, it was a 10 hour flight for us, so not too bored. We overall really enjoyed the extra space and service the SAS plus experience gave us. Volvo did a great job in making sure the OSD experience for customers was a comfortable and relaxing experience from the start.

We landed in Copenhagen in the afternoon. It was an unseasonably warm on the day for the area, so people were out and about enjoying a 75 degree day. We took the train over to our hotel in the Tivoli area next to Copenhagen Central. We decided to get the 24 hour City Pass which gave us unlimited transportation in the Central Copenhagen area. 24-hour City Pass is 80 kr., 72-hour City Pass is 200 kr. and children under 16 pay half price. Coming from the U.S. we always try to check out the metro and rail system in each country we visit (and feel horrible about the train network that we have).

We loved Copenhagen, such a nice city to walk, eat and explore. Some highlights included Paper Island (Copenhagen Street Food), Canal tour (Stromma), The Round Tower & Rosenborg Castle and Gardens. Total steps for the day: 26,586.
Check this place out if you want a great breakfast when in Copenhagen

Being that it was the end of May we had around 17 hours of sunlight. It was a bit surreal to get back to the hotel around 9:45pm and have it still be light out. We also woke up early because the sunrise was at 4:37am! We went on a hunt for some early breakfast (hard to find places open before 10). Check this place out if you want a great breakfast in Copenhagen (open @ 8:30am). To burn off the breakfast calories we took stroll across the city to the catch our canal tour. Highly recommend this canal tour, great way to see the city and areas we couldn’t get to see easily on foot.

Some pictures from our canal tour. Total step count for the day: 23,759

Gothenburg here we come!

Having the SAS plus tickets allowed us to bypass the regular security line and take the SAS Fast Track lanes which has a separate screening process (so nice!). We then headed to the SAS lounge (which is included with the SAS plus tickets) to grab a quick lunch before our flight. Nice lounge, mostly light finger foods for lunch (I had the soup and a complimentary beverage, wife had a sandwich). We then boarded a small 2 propeller plane (ATR72) to Gothenburg (45 min flight).

Gothenburg-The City of Volvo

From arrival you will see that you are in Volvo country now!

From arrival you will see that you’ve landed in the city of Volvo! Definitely a great feeling to see Volvo’s everywhere you turn. Upon getting our bags we were greeted by our driver (provided by Volvo). We were expecting it to be chauffeured in a Volvo limo but it was a Benz. But hey, we couldn’t complain, just had a little chuckle. We had a little fun looking out the window and seeing that most cars on the road were Volvos.

Volvo provides you with a free night at a hotel, they use Clarion Hotel Post conveniently located next to central station in downtown Gothenburg. It was my birthday on the day we arrived and I think they upgraded our hotel room to the top floor corner unit room with some amazing views. We were pleasantly surprised to walk into the room and see the great view! Volvo also gives a few welcome gifts to make you feel special.

After getting settled in we went for a quick walk around the town to orient ourselves.

Beautiful town, we expected a smaller city but it was a large small city, great architecture, great walking city! Total step count for the day: 18, 567.

One of the many OSD benefits includes a free 3 course dinner at the Norda Bar and Grill (inside the hotel). It was the by far the best meal we had on the trip. My wife kept on looking for the steak frites for the rest of the trip but it couldn’t be duplicated. If we would have paid for the meal, I think it would have been about $85-90 per person. It was a nice free birthday dinner! The breakfast the next morning was also spectacular.

I opted for the cod and the wife got Steak frites

Delivery Day!

164 days after placing the order the day had finally come! We opted for an early morning delivery (8:30am). Volvo sent a driver to pick us up (in an XC90) which was nice touch.

Its a 20 minute drive over to Torslanda where the Volvo factory is located.

Upon arrival you are met by your delivery specialist and a welcome Fika, even though we were full from breakfast, we had to have some Swedish Cardamom Rolls (Kardemummabullar) and some coffee. Our delivery specialist was Camilla (we got lucky!). Camilla was super nice and full of energy and knowledge (we highly recommend seeing if you can ask for her!). We went over some paperwork and also some basics about driving in Sweden. We had asked for a European Maps to be installed in the car (when we ordered) and I also requested a European SIM to be loaned to us so we can use the data in the car which Camilla was able to hook us up with. Once this was done, Camilla finally asked us, are you ready??

Some pics of the Factory Delivery Center

Camilla was super nice and told us that she would come let us know before she drove the car into the showroom. See below for what happened next!

Car Reveal Video
My wife named him Volver (to return in Spanish) as an ode to her living in Europe for part of her life.

Fun fact: Car’s build date was 4/12, the license plate was issued on 4/20.

Once the car is delivered. You spend about 45 minutes to an hour where the specialist goes over all the main details of the car, how to operate the main functions and have them answer any questions you might have. This was super helpful knowing how technologically advanced the car is. We noticed a few of our accessories we ordered didn’t get added but Camilla was super awesome in making sure we had them added before the car was shipped back to the U.S. Then came the hardest part, getting the car out of the showroom! They have the smallest door where you have to drive out, basically triggering all of the sonar sensors in the car. It was kind of nerve recking not wanting to scratch up the car in the 1st hour of ownership. Luckily the 360 camera’s came into good use!

Once you are out there is a “test track” where you can feel out the car. It’s kind of a joke calling it a test track but it was cool to try out some of the features you just learned about.

We had some time to kill before grabbing lunch and taking the factory tour so we decided to take a short ride over to the harbor testing out some features we were excited about (pilot assist).

Here’s a quick video of our first time driving the XC90

After our quick drive on the roads, we headed back for the lunch. We met some of the other OSD folks (2 had done multiple overseas delivery). We also met a group of students from India who won a trip to Sweden for winning a trivia contest. My wife was excited to do some shopping for some Volvo gear (you get 20% off) and to try the world famous Swedish meatballs!

She wasn’t disappointed. She called it one of the best meatballs she’s had! I was less impressed with my lunch (wish I went for the Salmon).

After the lunch, we had a factory tour. No pictures or videos unfortunately. If you are curious there are some Youtube videos that show a good summary. As car fans we were both super impressed and slightly overwhelmed with the process of how it goes from sheet metal to a complete product! Fun fact (don’t quote me): It takes about 40 hours for an XC90 to be produced from scratch to final product. It was also good to learn more about the history of Volvo and how much effort they put into innovation and safety. We definitely left the tour feeling good about the purchase and feeling a strong connection to the brand. It was also cool to see different parts to the assembly process as the car is put together. There are times of the year when the factory tour is not offered (model year switch time around July/August), I definitely suggest planning around this so you can see the tour. The tour took about 1 hour. By about 1:45–2pm we were all done with the delivery experience and it was time for our mini adventure up north to Marstrand and Fjällbacka! We still had about 8–9 hours of sunlight left.

But first we had to shop! There is an Ikea not too far from the factory on the way to Marstrand

A 45 minute trip northwest, Marstrand an easy trip from the factory to break in your driving and get used to the roads and the car.

Once in town you can take a ferry to the Marstrand Island.
We were here at the end of May. This town is a seasonal town for Swedes who come here for summer vacation.

At the top of the island sits Carlsten fortress, 300 years old, the fortress protects the town below. We learned that you can actually stay at the castle something we wished we knew earlier!

Our next stop was Fjällbacka

Fjällbacka is mostly known as a summer tourist town. Going there right before summer officially starts was kind of fun and creepy at the same time. It’s an hour and 30 minutes from the factory so it’s an easy day trip from the factory. The weather was a bit damp during our visit but it’s a beautiful little town. We grabbed some Fika @ Bryggan which also serves as a hotel.

Dinner that night wasn’t as nice as Norda Bar and Grill but noneless I was excited to see this! Thanks Volvo navigation for leading me to this when I asked for food!
We got back to the Hotel around 9:45pm and it was still light out!

Next day we had an easy morning, went to the park and did a small hike in Gothenburg and then decided to check out the Volvo Museum.

Museum was awesome! Talk about learning about all things Volvo from the start! It was great to see the long history of the brand. The entry was complimentary with a purchase of a Volvo :-)

Then came the hard part! It was time to say bye to Volver for now! They call it the hardest part of the process (waiting)…

At least our car had some company from his brothers when we said bye!

When you drop off the car you have the option of taking the red plates with you (we decided to take it as a momento for the garage as we wait). We also got the auto shipment order which shows an estimated departure (for us it was June 6th) and arrival (August 4th) back in the states. They also promised to install the remaining accessories that weren’t installed when we picked up. It’s good to have a checklist for you to ask and remind them. They actually forgot to charge us for the accessories so we reminded them and they also charged us the wrong amount for the accessories (not a big difference so we just let it go). This was the only part of the process where it felt a bit disorganized.

They made up for it though by offering us a taxi ride back to the airport! Super nice of Volvo to make sure the experience from the start to the end is done is style and comfort!

Some fun facts/what comes next:

  • We only put on about 352 km (218 miles) of driving into the car.
  • Our car actually shipped on June 15th instead of June 6th (I emailed them to find out). We got an email from Volvo on June 20th confirming the shipment and the ship name.
  • You can check the status of the ship by visiting the Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s website and typing in the Vehicle VIN as the cargo ID. There is also some sites online that tracks ships. I recommend either Marine Traffic or Vessel Finder.
  • We are expecting arrival for our XC90 state-side on July 11th according to tracking. They mentioned it might take another 10–14 days (to clear customs) after that to have the car arrive at the dealer for the second delivery!

Rest of our trip!

The sadness of leaving our car behind was only diminished by knowing that we still had a few more places to visit! We took a flight to Stockholm for a few days. Then we flew to Nice, France to spend some time in Monaco, Provence & Avignon area. With the open jaw ticket we were able to fly back from Nice back to the U.S. on Volvo’s dime and use the SAS Plus perks (which we were starting to miss with our other flights).

Below are some photos from the rest of the trip. We rented a car in France to help us travel to the other regions.

Stockhom was a must visit while we were in Sweden. We weren’t disappointed! Great walking city, we had over 53,000 steps in 2 days.

We headed to Nice and Monaco next. Nice is beautiful, it was nice to be relatively warm again after Scandinavian weather being a bit chilly for June.

Monte Carlo Casino & Grand Prix course in Monaco
Nice is such a lively town at night (much different than Stockholm). Definitely recommend checking out the Old town area.
Beautiful drive upto the town of Eze.
Our chariot for our time in Nice (one on the left). The other car..eh.. I think the XC90 is a better option for what you get :-)
We were recommended to visit St. Paul de Vence just outside of Nice. What a great find! One of my wife’s favorite stops on the journey!
Next stop: Provence for some Rosé! Château du Seuil is located in Aix-en-Provence, France was a great find. They don’t really do official wine tasting, but they are more then willing to pour you a few glasses to help you decide what bottle to get!
Avignon, France. Sits on the Rhône River. From 1309 to 1377, it was where the Catholic popes lived. Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) is a UNESCO world heritage site that’s well worth the visit. We also learned about lavender which was everywhere in the Provence area! Highly recommend staying at Hotel D’Europe if you are in the area.

The trip definitely lived up to the 6 months of planning and waiting. Volvo really does go out of its way to create life long brand loyalty. We can now see why people do multiple OSD trips! The fun part is that we still have 1 more delivery experience left before we call it a wrap! :-)