European Delivery for North American customers is only available at the M-B Customer Centre in Stuttgart. The reason is that it involves export documentation from the custom authorities in Stuttgart. Hence us going to Stuttgart to get my GLA. However, early in the process I had contacted the Customer Centre in Rastatt where Gerhard Lorenz, GM was very accommodating and basically said: why don’t you drop by after your Stuttgart delivery and we will give you and your group an individual factory tour so you see where your GLA was actually borne.
In the meantime, beside my wife Gill and son Sebastian, Doug Dees, John Geist, Peter Spitzer and Steve McKelvie all friends and MBCA members were present looking forward to the visit.
A few days later we drove our two white Mercedes (my old 220S Cabrio and the new GLA 45 AMG) to Rastatt located just a few minutes form our castle hotel.
In Rastatt, besides the GLA, A and B-Class are build. This includes complete assembly of the steel chassis, paint booth, suspension, electrical components, engine, final inspection and delivery. Very interesting was to witness how few people are actually involved in the physical assembly of these car. Most steps are done by automats and robots. The factory was virtually deserted and the whole process was extremely quiet, clean and fast – almost eerie. In many aspects it looked like the set of a SiFi movie.
The guided tour was about two hours long, with every second filled with highly interesting facts and views – even my sometimes “car fatigued” wife was mesmerized.
After the tour we were invited to a fine lunch in Bertha’s Restaurant, part of the Visitor Centre. Then we enjoyed some multimedia exhibits, bought some small souvenirs and played on the driving simulators. As a good–by gift we each received a Mercedes-Benz hat, posters and thumb drives with additional information.
Our little MBCA delegation must have left a good impression as our visit was covered prominently on the M-B Visitors Center Facebook page.
I can only recommend the European Delivery to anyone buying a new Mercedes and interested to visit Germany/Europe. It is a wonderful combination and will leave a lasting impression.