Growing up just outside of Boston, I used to see a lot of Volvos with a suspicious piece of red metal behind the license plate. They were Swedish export plates, left in place by drivers who wanted to signal to those in the know that they were real Volvo people, the kind who’d pick up their car in Gothenburg.
Then I pretty much forgot about the whole thing until this week when Mr. Regular drove a 2009 Volvo S80 with the tell-tale red plate still fitted more than ten years after delivery. In the video, he gives a little run-down of the program, explaining that in exchange for the price of one of the options packages on a new car (and some flexibility on total price and financing, no doubt), you can get a few more bells and whistles and an extended European vacation and no need to rent a car.
When you get back, you can show off your trans-Atlantic panache with that little export plate behind the real ones on your special-order S80 or XC90 or whatever you’ve chosen. Volvo calls their program “the adventure of a lifetime” in their marketing material, and while I’m not sure I’d agree the whole idea rises to that level, there are obviously plenty of takers out there.
I did some looking around and it turns out it’s not just Volvo that offers an option like this. Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, McLaren, and BMW all will let you pick up your car at the factory and drive it around Europe before returning it to their car for the journey back to the United States. It sounds like a lot of fun to me, but I wanted to know what it’s really like.
So, have you bought a car through one of these programs? Do you know someone who has? Tell us about it in the comments below.