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Mercedes E-Cell: AMGee Whiz!

Breaking News

Built on the high-performance SLS AMG speedster, the E-Cell version will have performance nearly matching its famous 6.3L V8 gas-engine counterpart. Speed, acceleration, and handling are all optimized in this sexy electric car from Daimler's Mercedes-AMG unit.
Photos from Daimler.com

by Aaron Turpen

Specs:

  • Type: Electric Supercar
  • Class: 2-Seat Sports Coupe
  • Manufacturer: Mercedes-AMG
  • Propulsion system: Electric
  • Top Speed: Unknown
  • Vehicle range: Unknown
  • Battery system: 48kWh Lithium-ion
  • Time to full battery recharge: 6-8 hours
  • Price: Not Firmly Stated
  • Availability: 2013

The manufacturer says

We take social responsibility very seriously and with the SLS AMG E-CELL we are demonstrating a further milestone in our "AMG Performance 2015" strategy. It is our goal to continually reduce the fuel consumption and emissions of new models in the coming years, while at the same time enhancing the core brand value of performance

Overview

Introduced in 2006, the SLS AMG is a high-end sports car that's received fame and popularity amongst supercar enthusiasts. Now the car is set to become the platform of an all-electric sibling, the SLS AMG E-Cell. The new E-Cell is being designed to not only fit the new drive train within the existing SLS aluminum space frame, but to closely match the awesome performance of the 6.3L V8, 571hp original it is based upon.

The E-Cell has a power output of 526hp (392kW) and 880Nm (649lb-ft) of torque and a 0-62mph speed of 4 seconds, just 2 tenths (0.2) shy of its gasoline-powered sister. That's extremely impressive, but the beauty doesn't end there. This performance car includes a lot of style.

The signature Mercedes-AMG gullwing doors set off the sleek and powerful styling of the SLS, but under the hood and body are some extremely high-tech and high-performance enhancements to match the new electric drive given this speedster.

The E-Cell is powered by four, 3-phase AC synchronous motors, one for each wheel. Rather than mounting them directly to the wheels and tires, Mercedes opted to attach them to high-torque drive shafts. This reduces the amount of non-floating weight (weight directly on the ground), which improves performance and comfort.

The motors can each achieve up to 12,000 RPMs and, of course, torque is instantaneous with electric motors, which gives the E-Cell a power advantage over the standard SLS.

The liquid-cooled, high-voltage lithium-ion battery system is modular in design. It holds an energy content of 48kWh with a 40Ah capacity giving it a maximum load potential of 480kW. Using an intelligent parallel circuit design for each individual battery module maximizes safety and reliability and also allows for slightly better efficiency in regenerative braking power recuperation. The cooling circuit for the batteries can be boosted by the car's air conditioning system. Battery packs are positioned in front of the firewall, along the center tunnel, and behind the seats to evenly distribute their weight ñ each module is the same as the others, allowing for easy replacement when required.

The even distribution of weight and design of the components meant that the weight-optimized aluminum space frame of the original SLS required no modification for the new E-Cell powertrain. The suspension was modified, however, from the double-wishbone of the original to a more robust, independent multilink suspension with pushrod damper struts. This also allowed for room for the extra drive shafts (the original SLS is a front-wheel-drive, rather than all-wheel). The new motorsport-based suspension means better handling for the weight characteristics of the E-Cell.

Finally, AMG ceramic composite brakes are mounted on all four wheels to maximize stopping power. The oversized discs are made of carbon fibre-strengthened ceramic and are in radial floating arrangements with their aluminum bowls. These brakes are higher-performing and 40% lighter than their iron counterparts.

Body enhancements to the electric car removed some of the intake and airflow requirements of the gasoline engine to further improve aerodynamics for the electric drive. The automatic rear spoiler remains, moving to optimize airflow according to vehicle speed.

Mercedes-AMG says that the SLS AMG E-Cell will likely see a limited production run as early as 2013.

What we like

This is an extremely high-performance electric with a lot of sexiness to attract the masses. That's a definite bonus when it comes to convincing Joe Public that an electric car doesn't have to be nerdy, but can enter the realm of James Bond.

Very innovative in its design, the SLS AMG E-Cell has beautiful looks which outclass most others in a way that only Mercedes-AMG can do.

What we don't

Still an out-of-price-range sports car that will see limited production. Just like the Tesla Roadster, Audi E-Tron, and others, the AMG E-Cell is estimated to be priced over $300,000. That makes it more than just an exclusive supercar.. it makes it unattainable and persists the rumor that electric cars are not affordable.

Conclusions

The instant-classic SLS was a heart-stopper as a gasoline engine vehicle. Now with electric drive, it will be beyond classic, even legendary. The performance specs and very high-tech systems underlying the SLS AMG E-Cell make it one of those cars whose posters will adorn the walls of dreamers and mechanics world-wide.

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