The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell has been under production for a few years now, but our latest batch of spy photos shows the car is testing on real world roads, suggesting that it is almost finishing production and ready to go on sale.
The SLS AMG E-Cell incorporates a high-voltage lithium-ion battery system and a permanent all-wheel-drive system with four individual electric motors mounted close to the wheels (not on the wheel hubs), plus a transmission for each axle. All together the system is said to make 526 hp and 649 lb-ft of torque, and hits redline at 12,000 rpm.
Each motor was mounted in a very specific place, chosen to reduce unsprung mass at each wheel, while a permanently active torque vectoring system allows selective distribution of power and braking to each wheel to limit understeer/oversteer and improve traction as well as reducing steering effort and angle.
To keep the car reliable, three separate cooling systems have been devised, two of which cool the motors and and one for the battery pack. To offset the weight of these extra systems and the batteries, the SLS E-Cell uses a carbon fiber monocoque tub, derived from those used on the company’s Formula 1 racers.
Although it appears as a stock SLS in the photos, the lack of sound was noted by the photographer as the main tip-off that this was the E-Cell, as well as the obvious absence of tailpipes.
The SLS E-Cell will take the fight to the Audi R8 E-Tron, both of which run 0-60 mph in about four seconds. A limited run of SLS E-Cell vehicles will be produced, and should be available sometime in 2013.