We have been watching the online car market place for months, trying to figure out what the right car will be for us. There are so many vehicles that are common to the US that simply don’t exist here in Germany, unless they were imported by the owner. Mini Vans, larger SUV’s, trucks, are all harder to find. There are also many cars for the German market that you would never find on the US market. You will find things like the A & B class Mercedes, smaller cars that have a much lower horsepower and higher fuel efficiency. There are also a ton of brands that I have never heard of.
One big difference in the German market is that there are many more former company cars on the road, as the majority of professionals have a company car that will be traded in after three years. In many cases, you can find a very good deal on a relatively new car with minimal miles and in great condition. Many of these cars were purchased with many extras by employees who waited up to six months for the car to be delivered. This is also part of the reason buying used is popular because it would be hard to find your chose car and extras on the lot as they don’t keep a lot of inventory, which results in long wait times for cars to be delivered new.
Used car salesmen in Germany do not care if you want to buy a car or not, it seems they do not work on commission. This makes the process much less frustrating on one hand and much more on the other. The first time we went to look they salesman didn’t even leave his office. We kept having to go back to him to get keys for the vehicle we wanted to look at. We also weren’t able to do any test drives in that moment because an appointment was needed for that.
We finally selected a used Volvo that we want to purchase, it’s a hybrid but we won’t get any tax incentive or rebate for buying it used. When you get the paperwork for the car, the reason that it is for sale is listed. In this case the car was delivered with the wrong stereo, it was driven for sixteen thousand kilometers while the owner waited for the car with the right stereo system. This one is basically brand new, so we are pretty excited! The Harmon Kardon stereo is exactly what we would have wanted to its basically winning!
Once we have agreed on the price and signed paperwork, the job is now ours to register the vehicle and apply for the license plates, which we have to take with us to pick up the car. This is the most frustrating part of the process for me. Even for the test drive, special dealer plates were put on the car so that we could leave the parking lot. Temporary plates are not allowed.
A fun part is that we get to pick our desired license plate. The first two characters are the abbreviation for the town or village where the car is registered. This will change in six months and we will be required to go through this process again. The second two characters are also letters and most people will pick their initials. The last three characters are numbers and many choose three that represent their birthday, favorite numbers, anniversary, etc. I love this but I also find this to be almost too personalized in that you could easily identify a lot of information about a person simply by looking at their license plate!
Our chosen plate has a new letter at the end, an E! The E is new for Electric cars, we haven’t seen a lot of plates with it yet. Sadly when we move into our new house, we will have to get another set of plates for our new city. One of my favorite things to do in the highway is to try to identify what letters stand for what city.