The SLS AMG Electric Drive Proves to be More Relevant Today Than Ever Before

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive 11 photos
Photo: Mercedes-AMG
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric DriveMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive
Which was the most powerful AMG in mid-2013? Was it a supersport lightweight two-seater, or maybe a Black Series model? Or perhaps a beast of a V12-driven luxury barge like an S 65? Well, no! Affalterbach's finest engineers released then a vehicle that shook the industry: the fastest SLS ever made, swapping the 6.2 monster V8 with electricity and batteries, naming it "Electric Drive."
Although it was first unveiled at the Paris Motor Show back in 2012, this month, we celebrate precisely eight years from its June 2013 first production date. The SLS Electric Drive (ED) proves to be still one of the essential steps in AMG's history regarding their future plans for high-performance hybrid and battery-electric drivetrains.

To celebrate this milestone, Mercedes-AMG released a throwback video, with an emphasis being put on a slightly cryptic motto: "This is our legacy. Imagine our future. #areyouAMGready". They succeed in leaving fans wondering about what the future might bring, also assuring them that what AMG might do soon might be as significant as the release of the SLS Electric Drive was back in the day.

Mercedes\-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive
Photo: Mercedes-AMG
One of Nine and a whole world to impress

First of all, there are not even that many vehicles produced. It is rumored that only nine examples have seen the light of day, and of course, AMG kept one for themselves. It's an uncommon sight to see one for sale. And if you are lucky enough to find it, you can expect to bring a small fortune with you if you want to add this piece of history to your collection. Considering its starting price of around $544,000 back then, nowadays, you cannot find these examples under seven-digit figures.

Not only stats and figures, but a unique all-round experience

As Mercedes-AMG states it, the SLS AMG Electric Drive was "the most electric supercar" of its time. It developed 740 hp and 738 lb-ft (1000 Nm) of torque, meaning more power than its brother, the SLS Black Series. 118bhp and 270lb-ft more, to be exact. These numbers translated into a naught to 60 mph (100 kph) times of 3.7 seconds and a top speed limited at 155 mph (250 kph). Moreover, it had another ace up its sleeve versus the Black Series, the instant and addictive response of the drivetrain.

Such figures are achieved by four electric motors, one driving each wheel and a 60 kWh battery, a very serious configuration for the early 2010s. Furthermore, two electric motors were mounted on each axle, and each set was controlled by its own dedicated transmission.

Mercedes\-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive
Photo: Mercedes-AMG
This arrangement, coupled with fast and precise software programming, meant that the electric gullwing could take advantage of an active torque vectoring like no other vehicle at the time. Using transistors and electrons, the hefty 4,700 lbs (2,132 kg) SLS ED could behave itself dynamically like no other gas-powered competitor, literally defying physics using science and computers.

The SLS AMG Electric Drive boasted a range of about 120 miles (193 km) on a single charge, but, truth be told, in real-life conditions, if you took advantage of all the available power, the distance you could travel decreased dramatically. You would consider yourself lucky if the car survived two laps of the notorious Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The Formula One division of Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains was responsible for the development of the lithium-ion battery pack. The assembly weighed in at about 1200 lbs (544 kg). It contained 864 battery cells, all of which were set inside a carbon fiber enclosure, which besides energy, offered increased structural rigidity when bolted to the SLS's aluminum frame.

Mercedes\-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive
Photo: Mercedes-AMG
Significance today

Mercedes-AMG is on a course to hybridize and electrify their performance drivetrains, and the Electric Drive variant of the mighty SLS AMG was the first step in that direction. The electric gullwing made a lasting impression on the automotive industry, petrolhead, or tech-savvy fans alike. It is now celebrated as a significant turning point regarding future projects that AMG might introduce to the public.

All the newly announced Mercedes-Benz EQ line-up, such as the EQS luxury sedan or the EQC small SUV, or even the AMG Project One, whose release date is around the corner, trace back their origins to the SLS Electric Drive project.

"This is our legacy. Imagine our future." is the AMG motto of choice that perfectly describes this vehicle's impact on the industry. Very much ahead of its time then, but more than actual today, this vehicle may very well represent one of the most influential products of the decade, maybe even the century, for the Affalterbach-based company.

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About the author: Dan Marinescu
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Since his early childhood, Dan developed an avid passion for cars and, now he sees himself as a genuine petrolhead. His enthusiasm comes from his father, an automotive engineer. They love to reminisce about the days when his dad showed him the inner workings of an engine and why everything does what it does.
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