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Benz confirms plug-in SLS supercar

Highly charged: The Mercedes-AMG SLS will hit 100km/h in four seconds - on battery power.

Mercedes-AMG plug-in electric version of upcoming SLS super-coupe under development

17 Jul 2009

MERCEDES-AMG has revealed it is “well advanced” in the development of a plug-in electric version of the new SLS ‘Gullwing’ supercar that will make its global public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Confirming an Autocar report from more than a week ago, Mercedes says it expects the zero-emissions super-coupe, which offers a maximum output of 392kW and peak torque of some 880Nm, to accelerate to 100km/h in “around four seconds”.

That compares favourably with the ‘garden variety’ SLS, which will be powered by a dry sump version of AMG’s 6.2-litre V8 that produces 420kW/650Nm and propels it to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.

Thrust for the near-silent SLS is provided by four electric motors positioned near the wheels, with one transmission per axle transmitting the power.

Apart from transforming the rear-drive SLS into an electric-drive SLS with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system – in a process Benz calls Torque Vectoring, which provides for the specifically targeted acceleration of individual wheels – the layout reduces unsprung weight compared with in-wheel hub motors.

A modular 400-volt liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery, with an energy content of 48kWh and a capacity of 40Ah, is employed for the first “pilot phase” of SLS development, with energy recuperation provided during braking. Some reports put the electric-drive SLS’s range at about 160km depending on driving style, with up to eight hours required for a full recharge.

Future battery technology will be produced by Deutsche Accumotive GmbH, a joint-venture between Daimler AG and Evonik Industries AG. It is unclear what involvement, if any, electric supercar-maker Tesla has in the zero-emissions SLS project. Daimler announced in May that it had a 10 per cent stake in the US-based company to collaborate on electric vehicle technology.

The separate modules of the Li-Ion battery are located ahead of the firewall, in the centre tunnel and behind the seats.

Mercedes-AMG says there are no changes to the regular SLS’s aluminium spaceframe body, including its trademark top-hinged “swing-wing” or gullwing doors.

Autocar says the electric SLS, which it claims will be dubbed the SLS eDrive, will enter limited production in 2015. It should come with a price premium over the standard SLS, which in turn is expected to carry a lower price-tag than major rivals such as Ferrari’s circa-$650,000 599 GTB Fiorano coupe.

“With the SLS AMG with electric drive, we wanted to redefine the super sports car,” said Mercedes-AMG CEO Volker Mornhinweg. “For us, it is not just about responsibility. We attach just as much importance to excitement and classic AMG performance.”

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