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Merc's stunning 386kW SLS E-Cell

2010-06-22 08:05

Contrasting yellow surfacing and black wheels are quite fetching. AMG V8 rivalling output numbers from a purely electric drive system even more impressive.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Model SLS E-Cell
Engine Electric
Power 386kW
Torque 880Nm
Zero To Hundred 4 sec
As the first supercar developed in-house by Mercedes-Benz in decades, the SLS AMG is hardly a poster child for environmentally-friendly electric power.

Featuring classic long-nose GT styling and powered by Affalterbach’s venerable 6.2l V8 engine (running a neat 420kW) the SLS AMG is an unashamedly pure performance car. The lineage between it and the classic Mercedes supercar, the 1950s 300SL, are strikingly highlighted by those characteristic gullwing doors.

Spinning power to a rear transaxle transmission via a carbon-fibre driveshaft and boasting double-wishbone suspension at each wheel corner, the SLS AMG cues all the requisite supercar technical details.

Mercedes-Benz though, is not about to let its environmental policy be corrupted by such absolute power.

When the SLS AMG was launched last year, Mercedes announced it would develop an electric drive version of the gullwing supercar.

Industry analysts though it was simply the work of an overzealous public relations officer trying to deflect some attention from the singularly dynamic focus of the SLS AMG.

With the first SLS E-Cell prototype up and running, Mercedes-Benz has shown its intent to merge environmental policy and performance.

An AMG rivaling EV?

Finished in a very bold lumilectric mango hue, the SLS E-Cell features a host of technical changes to the SLS AMG in order to facilitate its electric drive capability.

Firstly, the car’s dynamics change from rear- to all-wheel drive. This is due to the four electric motors (two at each axle) distributing 386kW and 880Nm between them. Mercedes claims the SLS E-Cell is good for a (very) swift four second 0-100km/h benchmark sprint time. Mercedes has refused to comment on speculation that the SLS E-Cell’s range is only around 180km.

The SLS E-Cell’s electric motors are serviced by lithium polymer batteries, which are accommodated around the central transmission tunnel and temperature regulated by two separated cooling units. Mercedes has not revealed details surrounding the weight penalty of the electric drive conversion…

Besides the switch to all-wheel drive, the other significant technical upgrade due to the electric drive conversion is a front axle suspension change. The SLS AMG’s double-wishbone wheel attachments are binned in favour of a multi-link set-up with onboard push-rod dampers, the latter being a more compact arrangement able to accommodate the presence of electric motors so close to the wheels.

With regards to styling, changes are minimal. An extendible front splitter and reshaped aft diffuser increase downforce, whilst the cabin gains digitised instrumentation (road speed, charge status, estimated range) and a ten-inch touchscreen centre console - displaying power flow emanating from the quartet of electric motors.

The lumilectric mango SLS E-Cell is a fully driveable prototype and points the way to a production version due in 2013. There are some peripheral technical issues Mercedes-Benz has not yet disclosed (kerb weight, recharging time tables, and range at peak performance), yet it would appear the Stuttgart manufacturer has moved into a checkmate position opposite its Zuffenhausen neighbour’s 918 Spyder

Are we at a tipping point where electric vehicles are about to become the supercars of choice? Are or disagree here...


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