Despite the shivering cold and strong wind on this early Tuesday morning, a quiet eagerness is humming through the inside of this bus. Sitting here are friends and families, fathers and sons. And as we turn off the main road and approach the BMW Performance Center's glass facade, some begin to point. "Is that it?" asks one. "There it is!" says another.
Some on this bus have had this day circled on their calendar for months. Me, too. When we ordered an X3 xDrive28i for our long-term fleet, BMW supplied its VIN. After creating an account on the automaker's website and plugging in the 16-digit alphanumeric string, we watched as our X3 completed each milestone of its assembly, including video of it being married to its powertrain and getting its sunroof installed.
Now, our finished Vermillion Red X3 is sitting prominently at the front of the Performance Center in its own glass room. Similarly parked are another X3 and an M3, whose owners are the ones pointing through the bus windows. Today we're taking ownership of our new cars though BMW's Performance Center Delivery program, a unique experience in the U.S. where, as part of a daylong new owner introduction, we'll receive driving instruction and a tour of the factory across the street that builds the X3 and X5/6 for world markets.
Performance Center Delivery costs nothing for customers who've ordered new vehicles, and it includes ground transportation, an overnight stay at a nicely furnished Marriott, and dinner and breakfast at the hotel's restaurant. All the owner needs to cover is airfare and the fuel needed to get back home. (Customers who buy their car off a dealer lot, instead of ordering one, can participate in a similar program, called BMW 101, for $495.)