The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive is Our Kind Of EV
All photos from mercedes-amg.com
It’s no secret that a range of electric vehicles cover most every major automotive segment, from city cars (Mitsubishi i-MiEV) to small sedans (Ford Focus Electric), and SUVs ( Toyota RAV4 EV) to sports cars (Tesla Roadster). Even supercar manufacturers are toying with the idea of sports coupes that draws their power from a battery cell rather than a V8 or V12 monster screaming right behind the heads of driver and passenger. Many range-topping hypercars, including the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari are using electric motors in conjunction with the standard gasoline-fed engines to provide massive amounts of horsepower across the rev range. The forthcoming Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive will be the first one to be fully driven by a battery pack, and even though it tips the scales at a porky 4,800lbs, the 400-volt, 60kWh cell develops 740hp and 737 lb-ft of torque. That is, of course, a monstrous amount of both, and since all that thrust is available from 0 RPM, the Electric Drive is able to hit 60mph from 0 in a tick less than 4 seconds. Impressed yet?
The Electric Drive shares a gullwinged, two-door body style with the standard, 6.2L V8 SLS AMG. In fact, the two are identical from the outside, save for the fact that all EDs so far have been clad in a, well… electric paint scheme. Really, its just a colored chrome treatment, but the effect is quite stunning and is miles away from the garish look of standard chromium-plated body panels. The body-colored grille helps accentuate the slotted openings that seem to explode from the three-pointed star logo; since electric vehicles don’t really need air to cool the battery pack, Mercedes is able to stylize the grille in a way that would normally block airflow into the engine bay to the detriment of the internals.
Unlike the standard SLS, the Electric Drive caps out at the 155mph limit that the German luxury manufacturers informally agreed upon years ago, although this is most likely due to battery preservation than maintaining tradition. Since the transmission only operates in one gear, the paddle shifters fitted to the steering wheel control several different levels of brake regeneration. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into some weird tradition with EV supercars; we don’t have to have paddle shifters, and nobody really needs to control that sort of setting on the fly. Counteracting the lameness of the brake paddles, AMG has thoughtfully created what they call “AMG Torque Dynamics.” Depending on the corner and intensity setting, the inside wheels can be slowed relative to the outside ones, making the turn tighter as well as making the car a bit more tail happy. This is a good thing, since the ED carries about 1,200lbs of extra weight compared to the standard car, although the balance shifts to the back by one percent. We wouldn’t want to get rid of that patented AMG oversteer, now would we?
The SLS AMG Electric Drive is a 2014 model expected to go on sale in Germany in June at a price equivalent to $550,000. That makes it more than twice as much as a standard SLS. Plus, there is the slight fact that Mercedes has not yet announced that it will come to the US. It’s not in any way a car for the masses, and the batteries are only expected to last 10 years. The range is effectively 125 miles under normal driving conditions, or half of what a Tesla Model S offers. Acknowledging a car’s shortcomings is crucial to understanding what the car cannot do, and for a car that costs more than half a million dollars, it better be damn near perfect. The Electric Drive, however, is meant to be a technological showcase for AMG, its torque vectoring system, and the immense kind of power that a stack of batteries can achieve. It’s not the green savior of the world, but it does show that supercars don’t need to run on fossil fuels to deliver the goods. About that exhaust note, though…
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive Gallery
Chris Harris Reviews the Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive