Project e-tron: Configured & Ordered

We weren’t planning to go electric. Well, we were, but not this quickly. The shift to electric is no doubt in motion, and my wife and I had come to terms with that fact. I considered waiting to see what might happen with this first e-tron, maybe waiting for the next-generation battery or the S-version we’ve seen testing. Then, we got the news. My spouse’s job was changing and all of a sudden we were facing a sizable commute… with free charging stations at her office.

Even with this news, the move to an e-tron wasn’t immediately obvious. It’s an expensive decision not to be taken lightly. My wife’s Q7 was relatively new, and we weren’t sure we wanted to give it up. We perused the classifieds for used A3 e-trons, Volkswagen eGolfs and even BMW i3s as an “affordable” commuter car – a scenario where we’d keep the Q7. In the end, those weren’t insignificant choices either. Then, as we considered the luxury and safety of the e-tron, not to mention the federal and state rebates ($7,500 and $1,500 respectively here in Pennsylvania), so we decided to make the plunge. We’d swap the Q7 for an e-tron, and learn our way through living with a 200 mile range in a relatively rural section of the east coast not known for an abundance of charging stations. Besides, we have another petrol Audi in the garage… just in case.

Working with Audi and Ian Abendschoen, a resourceful salesman at Audi Mechanicsburg, we decided to choose our spec in the configurator and then try to locate a car already built and sitting in U.S. inventory. With Audi finally amassing volume in this country, this task was difficult but not impossible… especially if we were willing to adjust our spec for the right candidate. That helped us locate a car more quickly.

We were on the fence over color. It’s hard to resist a red launched on several Audi RS cars, which is exactly what Catalunya Red is. The other color, seemingly boring enough, was a beige… Siam Beige to be exact. The paint color had grabbed our attention at the e-tron: The Charge event in San Francisco, though we’d yet to see another U.S. spec car in the color. Then, a friend on Facebook posted some real world photos and that sealed it. The photos looked nothing like the Audi configurator, which depicts the color as more of a drab gray mixed with dark forgettable silver. Throw in a name ending in the word “Beige” and it’s not surprising that this is the color with the lowest take rate in the United States. It harkens visions of nondescript Buicks and vanilla Lexus crossovers, and that’s hardly a selling point.

Nevertheless, I had a brief memory of a captivating car at The Charge, and those real world photos posted by a friend suggested something altogether better. We ordered it sight unseen, complete with Okapi Brown leather interior, Prestige Package trim, Cold Weather Package, Rear Side Thorax Airbags (with trick illuminated seatbelt buckles) and Tow Package. The latter likely won’t see much towing, but is invaluable for a Thule hitch-mount rack carrying bikes or e-bikes – an important addition given our lifestyle.

Our dealer was able to find several specimens that were close to our spec. The closest also had optional forged 21-inch turbine-design wheels, which meant slightly more cost, but with the cool turbine design that is both forged and lightweight.

Rather than waiting months, our car arrived in just a few weeks. Delivery has since happened, though we’ll leave first impressions to a future installment.

Follow Project e-tron in these locations.

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