Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Electrifying Mercedes AMG SLS eDrive

AMG states it will display a closer-to-production version electric SLS eDrive supercar later this year as it works towards a full production version in 2013.

The Mercedes-Benz performance arm rolled out the first eDrive concept at the last September’s Frankfurt motor show, and many skeptics viewed it as a one-off green publicity push, but departing AMG managing director Volker Mornhinweg has told GoAuto in Australia that the car is much more than that.


He said the company was deep into the development process for the car and on track for a 2013 debut.

The SLS eDrive has one 100 kW motor per wheel fed by a lithium-ion battery pack housed in the same body shell as petrol SLS models.

Having driven the prototypes, Volker Mornhinweg is confident the production model will deliver the same kind of emotion as the petrol version of the supercar.

“I can tell you that it is an amazing kind of experience,” he said. “Therefore we are on the way to transport the same emotion as you can have with the combustion engine.” Mind you, an electric SLS will have nothing as soul stirring as the bellow of the mighty V8 petrol SLS.

AMG are aware of this, being the relative silence of the powerplant, a crucial element of supercar such as the SLS.

AMG is against mimicking a combustion engine note and would prefer for it to sound electric, with the whirring of motors that goes with it.

“I can tell you there is a sound; it is not the same as a V8,” Volker Mornhinweg said.

“It is totally different. There is some wind noise, but when you push the throttle there is a sound that I would describe as interesting - it sounds new and futuristic.”

Mornhinweg’s AMG is happy with the design of an electric SLS. “This concept is perfect for e-drive because we can take (out) a combustion engine and transaxle (gearbox) and make no changes to the body in white, and we can put in two motors with the gearbox in the rear, two motors and the gearbox in the front and we can take the centre console as a battery place - it looks like a T and it is perfect,” he said.

Mornhinweg said it was important to build an all-electric supercar first and could consider other technology for extending the range. The estimated range is about 180km.

The make-up of electric vehicles will depend on battery technology advancements, Mornhinweg said. “In the long run it depends on what will be the next move in the battery technology and the whole world is working on that like hell,” he said.

As previously reported by GoAuto, AMG is looking at other ways of reducing the fuel consumption of its cars, including a possible boosted four-cylinder small car.

It will also move away from its 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8, opting instead for a more efficient twin turbocharged 5.5 liter V8 with direct injection that manages 420 kW and 900 Nm of torque.

AMG says this engine will use about 25 percent less fuel than the existing one. This engine will also be introduced in the large S-class sedan before being spread across the AMG range.

GoAuto asked Volker Mornhinweg if fuel economy concerns meant the end of the naturally aspirated engine within the next decade. He agreed: “Without an e-motor (as a hybrid) I think so, except for very small ones such as range extenders. The combustion engine we will see for the next decade, but it will be charged.”

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what was different about the pre-1926 Buick and Dodge gearshift gates. They were the other way round from usual practice, with first and reverse on the right hand side and second and third on the left.

Who made this car?

So to this week. To try and beat the Googlers - which automaker made this car? Clue - it wasn’t Mazda.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!

Lamborghini to produce a V12 Jota

The Lamborghini branch of VW is to release another supercar on the well-heeled public at the Paris motor show later this year. With the Murcielago being phased out, the V12 Jota will be the replacement.

To get the weight down and under the 1650 kg of the Murcielago, the Jota will have lightweight carbon-fiber body panels, as well as some aluminium components, most likely the doors and roof. It is also rumored to have the same aluminium spaceframe as currently in the sister marque’s Audi R8.

This new Lamborghini is set to be powered by a new direct injection 7.0 liter V12 engine pumping out a massive 525 kW and 700 Nm of torque - replacing the Murcielago’s 6.5 liter, 471 kW/660 Nm unit, resulting in an estimated zero to 100 km/h in three seconds, and finally running out of breath at 360 km/h.

The engine is going to be mated with a new seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and differential delivering the power to all four wheels.

One wonders where all this is going to end? The Audi R8 V10 will only have 333 of them built. No word on how many of this new Lamborghinis will be made, but expect it to be a limited number as well.