We’ve had the chance to see (and drive) the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell electric sports car in its concept/prototype guise, but the automaker’s starting to dish finalized specifications before it launches next year.
The SLS AMG E-Cell will be an all-wheel-drive vehicle, thanks to the use of four compact electric motors. (two in front, two in back). The system’s net output is in the neighborhood of 526 hp and a massive 629 lb-ft of torque. The motors draw power from a 48-kWh high-voltage, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack is made up of 864 individual cells and was originally developed for use with the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) employed in Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 cars.
Thanks to extensive lightweight construction – the transmission tunnel and battery monocoque is carbon fiber and the body panels are aluminum – the SLS AMG E-Cell can make the dash from 0 to 62 mph in a scant four seconds flat. That is just 0.2 second slower than the gas-powered SLS AMG, which is powered by a 571-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine. During our first drive of the SLS AMG E-Cell prototype, the car felt mind-bogglingly fast. Power for the SLS AMG E-Cell is routed through two transmissions (one for each axle) and 100 percent of torque is available from standstill thanks to the electric motors. Since each wheel can be driven independently, torque can be infinitely varied depending on brake force, acceleration, and cornering grip to best keep the E-Cell planted and moving through corners.
Mercedes utilizes a trio of cooling systems to keep the E-Cell up and moving, as well – the battery pack is liquid-cooled, and there are two separate low-voltage cooling system for each of the motors on the front and rear axles. To bring everything to a stop, the SLS AMG E-Cell with AMG's high-performance, carbon fiber-strengthened ceramic composite brakes, roughly 16 inches in diameter in the front and 14 in the rear.
Mercedes-Benz has also overhauled the front suspension of the SLS for E-Cell duty. The redesign was forced by the new front-wheel drive unit, and does away with the gas-powered SLS' vertically-arranged struts in favor of an F1-inspired independent multi-link suspension with pushrod damper struts. The automaker says that this was not only a necessary revision, but one that will also improve handling.
The Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell is slated to hit the market at the beginning of next year; while pricing has yet to be announced, expect it to carry a fairly big premium over the current SLS AMG's $192,175 base price with destination. It looks like the future of supercars could be here sooner than we think.