First Look: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

Putting the battery car on steroids.

by on Jan.11, 2011

The battery-powered version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar will reach dealers in 2013.

Who said battery cars are for geeks?  Well, rich geeks, perhaps, because it will take a Silicon Valley entrepreneur to afford the battery-powered supercar Mercedes-Benz is formally introducing at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell is not a Nissan Leaf.  Like the conventionally-powered 2-seater, this is a car designed for those who put a premium on performance, but it will also offer the owner some green bragging rights.

“It’s our most exciting way of cutting emissions ever,” proclaimed Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and head of its Mercedes brand during a preview at the North American International Auto Show.  “It’s like climbing out of an F4 Phantom jet and into an X-Wing fighter in Star Wars – except this is not science fiction.”

Detroit Auto Show News!

Ignoring, for the moment, the neon lime green matte paint the prototype revealed at Cobo Center is visually very much in keeping with the gasoline-powered version of the Mercedes SLS, notably including the supercar’s striking gull-wing doors.  There are only subtle revisions to improve the efficiency of what was already a highly aerodynamic body.

The SLS E-Cell will deliver enough torque to change most people's perception of what a battery car is capable of.

The body of the battery SLS will be made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, a lightweight yet incredibly strong composite that will supplied by a new joint venture Daimler announced last year.

The big news is under that matte finish, a lithium-ion battery pack ing four synchronous electric motors that can, together, produce a neck-snapping 526 horsepower (392 kilowatts in language those geeks can relate to), and 656 pound-feet of torque.

As impressive as that last figure might be, it actually understates the potential launch feel of the SLS E-Cell. Electric motors deliver maximum torque the momentum they start spinning, so the takeoff feel of the 2-seat battery car likely will be akin to that of an X-Wing fighter making a run at the Death Star.

Changes to the battery version of the Mercedes SLS include more aerodynamic wheels.

The zero-emission SLS “will help you meet two of the typical New Years resolutions,” suggested Zetsche, “to quit smoking and lose weight.”

On a more serious note, the German executive told that planned production will be measured, in the 100s.  And the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell “will certainly not be a cheap vehicle.  (Its price) will be significantly above” the “base” SLS, but probably under the $400,000 mark, Zetsche hinted.

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