Time was that electric cars were glorified golf carts. No longer Today’s all-battery-powered vehicles are larger, better looking—and faster. Exhibit #1: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-cell.
With a top speed of 160 mph (260 km/h), this day-glo packet of German engineering is set to become the world’s fastest production electronic vehicle, besting the Tesla Roadster by 41mph. Four electric motors can rocket the AMG E-cell from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds. A few seconds later you can be up to 150mph, thanks to the 526 hp that are available virtually across the speed spectrum.
Another first for an all-electric car: the E-cell’s wheel mounted paddles that engage the vehicle’s four brake-regeneration programs. Heading downhill? Set the car on coast. Need to stop quickly? Use the hand brake mode. Either way the power produced by the brakes is cycled back into the battery. Once you get feel for how to use the wheel paddles you can drive almost without using the foot brake pedal at all.
What’s the catch (besides this car’s cost, which Mercedes-Benz hasn’t announced yet but is likely to be absurdly high) you may be wondering. To date no electric vehicle has been able to match the range of an old fashion gasoline-powered vehicle. Sadly, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-cell continues that trend. Although the E-cell’s batteries hold a massive 480 kWh, an industry record, it has a maximum range of a mere 125 miles. And that’s the absolute maximum range, achievable only when like a Florida grandmother under optimal conditions. Accelerate happily, cruise at Autobahn speeds, and the functional range is more around 25 miles.
Add it all up and ride offered by the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-cell is the very definition of short but sweet.