Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Prototype First Look

If you still think that an energy-efficient and green car will trudge along the roads and accelerate at an almost humiliating rate that often makes one wonder if it will send you flying backwards on an uphill climb, Mercedes-Benz is about to change your mind.

If you still think that an energy-efficient and green car will trudge along the roads and accelerate at an almost humiliating rate that often makes one wonder if it will send you flying backwards on an uphill climb, Mercedes-Benz is about to change your mind.

Because by 2015, super cars running on the road will be green as well. Mercedes-Benz has just unveiled the first images of its new SLS AMG E-Cell prototype, which even more breathtaking than new plug-in hybrid electric Porsche 918 Spyder.

Althought the all-electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Prototype has slightly less horsepower than its gas-powered sibling, it still has a very impressive 526 horsepower and 649-pound-feet of torque – the latter available from the moment you mash the pedal to the floor. The motors, according to the Mercedes-Benz, are capable of rocketing the SLS AMG E-Cell from rest to 60 in less than 4.0 seconds.

Despite the E-Cell’s impressive numbers, why remove the SLS AMG’s 6.2-liter, 563 horsepower V-8, one of the most sonically rewarding supercar mills in production? It’s all part of Mercedes’ AMG Performance 2015 strategy, the goal of which is 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,” says Ola Källenius, Mercedes-AMG GmbH’s new chairman.

The electric drivetrain allows AMG to place weight efficiently and required no modifications to the SLS’ aluminum spaceframe. The lithium-ion polymer battery modules sit in front of the firewall, in the center tunnel, and behind the seats, aiding in both lowering the E-Cell’s center of gravity and better balancing its weight. The motors – each one can achieve a maximum of 12,000 rpm – though not mounted on the wheel-hubs, are low in the chassis and close to each wheel. .

The two motors up front required from AMG to redesign the front suspension. The present SLS has a double wishbone while the E-Cell employs an independent multilink suspension with pushrod damper struts. Still, Mercedes maintains that the E-Cell retains the handling characteristics of the gas-powered SLS. The E-Cell wears the SLS’s optional ceramic composite brakes, sized 18.5-inches front and 14.2-inches rear.

The battery pack’s max load potential is 480 kW. Delivering so much power requires substantial temperature monitoring, and a low-temperature circuit cools when need be – the air conditioning can help in extremely hot climates – while, in cold conditions, an electric heater brings the battery up to operating temperature.

An extended front apron aids airflow under the body, and Mercedes has also added an extendable front splitter. It acts in parallel with the rear spoiler, extending downward three inches above 75 mph. Air travels faster under the car as a result and reaches a more dramatically angled diffuser that increases rear downforce.

The driver can control the splitter through buttons on the driver-focused AMG Drive Unit, which also houses the start button, rear spoiler control, and new park, reverse, and drive buttons. Additions to the interior include an AMG instrument cluster with displays for speed, charge status, and estimated range.

A revised center console features a ten-inch touch screen infotainment system, which operates audio, climate, and navigation functions. The screen also displays the flow of power from the four electric motors. The upholstery is a black-and-white mix of leather and Alcantara on the seats, steering wheel, door linings, and center console.

External changes include the addition of an extendable front apron and splitter, a wider grille, revised air intakes in the hood, LED headlamps, plus a luminescent yellow paint scheme with matte-black accents. The ten-spoke wheels are staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch rear, wearing 265/35 and 295/30 rubber, respectively.

Mercedes executives previously have said the first production SLS AMG E-Cell units could arrive by 2013. Expect a price tag well in excess of the standard car’s $183,000 sticker. While the E-Cell is a driving prototype – there is still plenty of development work to be done, so specs on range and cost remain to be known. Concrete production details are also to be determined, but expect the E-Cell to be a low volume vehicle. [via Automobile Mag]

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