Mercedes-Benz reveals the drive system of the SLS AMG E-CELL

Article by Christian A., on March 10, 2012

Mercedes-Benz’s SLS AMG E-Cell project will be powered by this electric drivetrain system. The automaker has recently presented this drivetrain, which benefits from its Formula 1 experience, especially with the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). The E-Cell’s electric powertrain started development in 2010 and is being jointly produced by AMG (Merc’s performance arm) and Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, Northamptonshire.

This system consists of four electric motors positioned near the wheels that offer a peak power output of 392kW (equivalent to 526bhp) and 649lb ft of torque. Its four motors rev to a maximum of 12,000rpm. The SLS E-Cell, which features gullwing doors, could sprint from a standstill to 62mph in 4.0sec while the conventionally powered SLS AMG can get to this speed in 3.8sec.

The motors are placed near the wheels instead of in the wheel hubs so that the unsprung masses would be reduced. The four electric motors and the transmissions are positioned very low down in the vehicle to have a low center of gravity and so that weight distribution would be balanced. Charging the 400-volt battery, which consists of 12 modules of 72 lithium-ion polymer cells, is done via targeted recuperation during braking while the car is running.

The direct current is converted by an electronic control system from the high-voltage battery into a three-phase alternating current that’s necessary for the synchronous motors and regulates the energy flow for all operating conditions. The battery temperature is maintained by other cooling and heating systems.

As this is an electric motor system, it means that the E-Cell has permanent four-wheel drive and active torque vectoring, which enables every wheel to be independently braked or driven but it would depend on conditions.

In addition, the carbonfibre transmission tunnel serves as the monocoque housing for the high-voltage battery modules. It is also structurally integrated into the E-Cell’s aluminum body shell. The E-Cell isn’t like the current production version of the AMG SLS as it comes with an independent multi-link front suspension with pushrod damper struts. The reason is the added driveshafts. The vertically arranged damper struts in the traditional SLS had to make way for them.

Slowing down the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell technology vehicle is done with the help of AMG ceramic composite brakes, which can be availed of as an option for the SLS AMG series production models, which boast outstandingly short stopping distances, excellent fade resistance, and a precise actuation point even under extreme operating conditions. The brake’s over-sized discs measure 402 x 39 millimeters at the front, and 360 x 32 millimeters at the rear. They are specifically made from carbon fiber-strengthened ceramic and feature an integral design. They are also connected to a bowl made of aluminium in a radially floating arrangement.

These ceramic brake discs weigh 40% lighter compared with the usual gray cast iron brake discs. Reduced unsprung masses not only improve their agility and their handling dynamics, but also their ride comfort and tyre grip. What’s more, the front axle’s lower rotating masses also provide a more direct steering response that is noticeable when you take motorway bends at a high speed. Also, the car’s ABS and ESP systems were adapted to match the permanent all-wheel drive’s special application spectrum.

The technology vehicle boasts a purist, exciting design, with a few minor yet very effective modifications. These modifications include dynamically shaped full-LED headlamps at the front complete with daytime driving lights. These LED headlamps help optimize the energy efficiency of the vehicle, since they need less power than the regular bi-xenon light systems.

Meanwhile, the wider radiator grille sports a new look, now with transverse slats in place of the diamond-pattern grille. Additionally, the air outlet openings at the bonnet and at the sides have been modified for better aerodynamics. All the detachable parts and the trims now come in matt black finish instead of the chrome or the silver shadow finish on standard SLS AMG models.

Lastly, the front apron of the vehicle hasn’t been merely brought further forward, but it also helped guarantee an optimized airflow in the underbody area. This helps improve air resistance as well as reduces downforce.

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