Although the design of its advanced electric powertrain hasn't changed since our original first look at the upcoming Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell, the automaker has just released some new images of the hardware and presented a few more pertinent details about the motivation for its nascent zero-emissions supercar.
A collaborative effort between Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, England, the drivetrain in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell consists of four electric motors, one at each wheel with each pair linked by a single-speed transmission at its respective axle. These components are located low in the structure of the SLS AMG E-Cell and as close to the wheels as possible to optimize overall weight distribution and improve the car's center of gravity. A sophisticated computerized control system allows each motor in this permanent all-wheel-drive setup to be independently accelerated or braked, permitting full torque vectoring capabilities to optimize the car's overall handling.
Collectively, the motor array in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell develops 525 horsepower and 649 lb-ft of peak torque, sufficient to send it sprinting from 0-62 mph in 4.0 seconds. Energizing the system is an advanced liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that was developed using technology culled from the automaker's KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) originally introduced in its 2009 Formula One racing program. The pack consists of 12 modules, each composed of 72 lithium-ion polymer cells. Collectively, it can store 48 kWh of energy and has a maximum electric load total potential of 480 kW. A dedicated controller unit changes the direct current from the battery into three-phase alternating current required by the motors and regulates energy flow throughout the vehicle. Like most EVs, the SLS AMG E-Cell is fitted with highly efficient regenerative braking to provide a measure of on-the-fly recharging capability in addition to its primary plug-in electric replenishment.
Developed following guidelines set out in the automaker's "AMG Lightweight Performance" design strategy, the overall structure and bodywork of the SLS AMG E-Cell are primarily aluminum. However, the battery itself is located inside of a special carbon-fiber monocoque "transmission tunnel" that runs down the center of the vehicle's floor area. This forms an ultra-rigid and intrusion-resistant integrated spine that adds strength and safety to the mix while offering about a 30 percent weight saving compared to an aluminum alternative.
Current plans call for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell to be produced in a very limited production run and go on sale in select markets sometime in 2013.