In 2010, we first reported here at Earthtechling about the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell, an electric concept version of the retro-exotic super car. The automaker later brought it to the 2011 Detroit Auto Show where Mercedes chair Dr. Dieter Zetsche announced the SLS AMG E-Cell, also called the SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive, would go into production and arrive at dealerships sometime this year.
Thus it’s no surprise Mercedes-Benz has begun to blitz the autosphere with more details of the coupe. Americans continue to be keen on electric cars whether they’re the exotic-looking Tesla Model S or the more practical – and affordable – Nissan Leaf. The recent spat between Tesla founder Elon Musk and the New York Times has kept EV interest all charged up.
But back to the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive. As far as we can tell from the press release, there have been no significant changes by the automaker. Which is a good thing. The four electric motors still continue to deliver 552 kilowatts, or over 740 horsepower and a mind-blowing 737 lb-ft of torque. The latter, in practical terms (as practical as a half-million dollar electric sports car can be) means the SLS Electric Driver can go from zero to 60 under four seconds. In comparison, the most powerful Tesla Model S moves at a more leisurely pace of 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph in the same time frame.
What we did learn is that Mercedes really wants potential SLS AMG E-Cell buyers to note that the coupe still sounds like a sports car; specifically, one developed from Formula 1 racing. EVs and many hybrids, by the very nature of their electric motors and batteries, are quiet. Several automakers like Nissan have equipped their EVs with sound systems to broadcast certain noises when the motors are on so unwary pedestrians will know one is approaching. (Or notify other vehicles on the road to move out of the way.)
Called “SLS eSound”, the Mercedes system is a unique soundtrack of various sounds triggered depending not only on what systems are in use, but what the EV is doing at the time. Pressing the ignition button on, for example, generates the loud rumble similar to the gasoline-powered model. Engine sounds again change as the driver shifts from park to drive.
According to Mercedes, over 20 different sounds elements contributed to this soundtrack. A specialized control unit was developed for the SLS eSound, which is emitted through the electric sports car’s eleven loudspeaker system. Interestingly, EV “purists” can turn off the system to listen to the natural whir of the Electric Drive’s motors and road noise from the 19 (front) and 20 (rear) inch tires.