There have been a lot of discussions about how BMW European Delivery started, and recently I came across a great post made on Bimmerfest by one of the members, z365, which seems to cover most of the angles on how the ED program started.
“I have concluded that the impetus for the European Delivery Programs (as we now know them)developed within West German economic planners that were desperately trying to come up with new ways to help West German economic recovery after WWII. Not only did West Germany needed to find new overseas clients for its re-emerging auto industry, but Germans needed to encourage international travel to the homeland. Of course, the principal purpose for the latter was reaping the financial benefits of tourism. Foreigners needed to know that West Germany was no longer ‘bombed out” and in ruins.
They were rebuilding a flourishing tourism industry to compete with those of France, Italy and Britain for the traveling (mainly North & South American at the time) tourists. But equally important, Germans hoped that the inter-action with foreigners would help transform its international ‘political’ reputation after the bad press generated by the war & its ‘ancien’ regime. You remember the guy with the funny mustache, no? By the mid-fities, West Germany had established a thriving democracy and the government was anxious to have that fact known and experienced by as many foreigners as possible, especially Americans who held the reins of political power and wealth after WWII.
As a result, the West German government gave its auto manufacturers a direct monetary incentive (perhaps via corporate tax savings) for each German car sold and delivered to a foreigner in Germany. The ED program was a great success and became part of the myth now known as the German Economic Miracle, the successful era of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and his savvy Economic Minister at the time, Ludwig Erhard. In the early days, no auto maker made better use of marketing the benefits & savings of the European Delivery Program than tiny Porsche. The Porsche Club of America, with Max Hoffman’s help (he was the US importer), was putting together ‘Treffens’ in the late fifties that organized Euro deliveries for Americans…fifty and more 356s at a time! Within a short time, Mercedes and others came up to speed quickly.
As the German car industry matured & prospered, and the peaceful & democratic reputation of West Germany was established in the world beyond reproach, the favorable tax treatments were no longer needed or necessary. When and how they were changed, reduced, or modified, I really do not know. But they are no longer the same. I have done five EDs in my lifetime (two Porsches and three BMWs) and each time I have thought (and thanked) the foresight of these German economic planners from the mid-fifties. Not only has it encouraged me to purchase German automotive machinery more often, but it has also allowed me to get to know and appreciate the many positive qualities of the German people. In addition, I have had many opportunities to experienced the beautiful landscape, architecture, food, beer & wine of the German nation. Sadly today, early ED pioneer Porsche has seen fit to give us a financial disincentive for Euro Delivery in Zuffenhausen. No savings. In fact, it cost much more. Shame on them and their shortsightedness. We appreciate BMW and Mercedes continuing with this great program, no matter what support (or not) it now gets from the German government, and encourage Audi to follow suit. “