The car of the future is here, and it does so much more than you imagined.
The Car of the Future is Electric, and Faster For It
The big boys aren’t just entering the plug-in race — they’re doing donuts in the infield.
Biofuel. Diesel. Hydrogen. All pitched as solutions to our dino-juice dependence, and all destined to be the Betamax of fuels now that the major automakers are putting their might behind electricity. The best part? They’re not just constructing Prius clones. Exhibit A: The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell, due in late 2012 or early 2013, will be priced above the $183,000 gas-powered SLS. In other words, an electric car will soon stand atop the Mercedes-Benz food chain. “We had electric drive in mind for the SLS from the word go,” says Ola Källenius, CEO of Benz’s uber-tuning department, AMG. And go like hell it shall.
Four electric motors, mounted inboard of each wheel, deliver 526 horsepower. But the benefits of the four-motor array lie not just in how much oomph it makes, but how it delivers said oomph. Unlike a combustion engine, “Torque is available from the first millisecond,” says Källenius. “From zero to 60 mph, it’s a real horse-kick in the back.” And with a motor at each wheel, the power can be transferred automatically to the corners with the best grip. Depending on the situation, the SLS E-Cell could be rear-wheel, all-wheel, or, hell, left-wheel drive.
The car should be as agile as its oil-swilling brother, too. “With the batteries in front, where the engine was, as well as in the transmission tunnel and in the rear, the car’s weight distribution actually improves a little,” says Källenius. That said, the range of the lightning Benz will max out at around 100 miles, less if you drive it hard. The SLS E-Cell, like all fully electric cars, is not for road-tripping.
Audi has an electric exotic in the works (see below), while Porsche recently announced that its next supercar will be a hybrid powered partially by two electric motors. Which means that the next time you burn rubber, it’ll be the only petroleum product going up in smoke.