The Uber electric Supercar

Mercedes-AMG Brings The Electric Super Car SLS AMG E-Cell

Mercedes showed a tantalizing electric super car prototype a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show and has since announced its production.
Advertisement


Mercedes is surprising us again with the Uber car, this time, electric. The Mercedes-AMG SLS AMG was confirmed for production at the Detroit Auto Show in January for 2013. But wait till you see what is under the hood, or more to the point, in the wheels!

The Race To The EV Supercar. The race is heating up for the ultimate electric car, EV supercar. While the Lightening GT project is stunning, choke full of performance and on the bleeding edge of technology, it’s still not here yet. Tesla Motors is positioning itself into the affordable high-end performance, leaving other carmakers to offer even higher-end EVs.

Technically Speaking. The SLS AMG E-Cell will sprint the 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds compared to the conventional gas powered version’s 3.8 seconds. The electronically limited top speed 155 mph, slightly below the gas SLS AMG’s 197 mph.

The SLS AMG E-Cell is an electric all-wheel drive EV developed after 2 years of cooperation between Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains of Brixworth, England. Sporting one electric motor per wheel, not in-hub, but via independently driven shafts, the four synchronous motors rev up to an electronically limited 12,000 rpm. The total peak output is 525 hp with a peak torque of 650 ft-lb. The peak 650 foot-pounds of torque is readily available starting at 4,000 rpm.

To give you an idea of what this mean compared to the more conventional gas version, the SLS AMG’s M159 engine has understandably little torque at low rpm. It only finds its peak torque at 4,750 rpm where it delivers its 571 hp at 6,850 rpm. The E-Cell provides the full 400 hp from 3,800 rpm all the way up to 12,000, while delivering full torque as soon as it spins, dropping it at the same time horsepower starts to peek. All of this on a car that is 840 pounds heavier than its gas-powered sibling, what a winning combination any performance thrill-seeker wants in a car.

With each wheel driven by it’s own electric motor, yet not using in-hub, Mercedes-AMG bypasses inherent problems of un-sprung weight and dead inertia should one motor fail in the wheel. What this also means is that, each wheel can adapt on the fly to whatever atmospheric and road condition.

The lithium-ion polymer battery pack is rated at 48 kWh, which gives the EV a range of about 90 miles. But here is the great news, AMG should provide another optional 60 kWh battery pack, which should extend the range to around 130 miles.

Driving Modes. You will be able to drive the E-Cell using four distinct driving modes ranging form comfort, sport, sport plus, and a manual setting. The Comfort mode will give you only 40% of the peak power and the handling will be damped, making for a normal everyday drive. In this mode, the AMG SLS AMG E-Cell will be perfect for congested city drives and slow traffic giving a respective 90 and 130 mile range. But how much fun is it to drive a car like this when you could do it in sport mode! The Sport mode uses 60% of its total peak power. The controls are not as toned down and the EV comes alive again. Here is where Mercedes-AMG has done the homework well and those two years of development are providing fruitful. In both of these modes, power is limited but flooring the “no-gas” pedal will unleash the full power when needed. In other words, you could drive leisurely but floor it will raise your adrenaline level again. In Sport Plus mode, you can unleash the electrons to your heart’s content. The Manual mode basically turns off the regenerative braking, letting you cost if needed leaving the full battery pack capacity for use.

There are also 4 separate braking modes controlled by paddles on the steering column. The first 2 levels are mild and will make the E-Cell feel like a regular car coasting to a stop. The 3rd level is more aggressive and level four will give you a dose of serious regenerative braking, to the point you should feel the brakes are on. The body uses carbon fiber-reinforced polymers, CFRP, which houses the battery pack.

This Mercedes-AMG will set you off by $250,000, but well spent. The Mercedes-AMG SLS AMG E-Cell was well worth the wait and should hopefully spark a Ferrari & Porsche EV war.


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.