Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG prototype  (Source: Edmunds)

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG interior  (Source: Autoblog)
SLS Gullwing to get electric companion

The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing is classic beauty that garners attention wherever it goes. The vehicle not only had great looks, but it’s brought a lot of forward-looking technology including mechanical direct fuel injection and the iconic "gull wings" which were necessitated by the stout tubular chassis.

Although there have been many SLs that have followed over the years, arguably none have had the impact of the original. Mercedes is looking to change that with the new 2010 SLS AMG Gullwing which will hit American streets next year. The vehicle takes its styling direction from the 1955 original, but includes all of the latest in powertrain, suspension, and aerodynamic design.

The standard SLS AMG will be powered by AMG's 6.2-liter "M159" V8 engine. The engine develops an amazing 571 HP and a stump pulling 479 lb-ft of torque (402 lb-ft are available at just 2,500 RPM). The power is routed through a 7-speed dual clutch transaxle turning the rear wheels. The powerful engine is enough to propel the 3,550-lb vehicle to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and to a top speed of 196 mph according to Road and Track magazine.

But that's not the most interesting part; Mercedes today announced that it is also working on a fully electric version of the SLS. The electric version will be powered by a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack and four power electric "hub motors" mounted at each wheel. The system will provide 526 HP and 649 lb-ft of torque (nearly 200 more lb-ft than the gasoline engine).

Mercedes says that the electric SLS will be able to reach 60 mph in just four seconds, not too far off the pace of the standard vehicle.

"With the SLS AMG with electric drive, we wanted to redefine the super sports car. For us, it is not just about responsibility. We attach just as much importance to excitement and classic AMG performance," remarked Volker Mornhinweg, Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

Today's announcement also makes sense considering Daimler's recent investment into Tesla Motors. Thomas Weber, the head of research and development for Mercedes-Benz, noted at the time of the 10% investment, “Our strategic partnership is an important step to accelerate the commercialization of electric drives globally. As a young and dynamic company, Tesla stands for visionary power and pioneering spirit. Together with Daimler's 120 years of experience in the automotive sector this collaboration is a unique combination of two companies' strengths. This marks another important milestone in Daimler's strategy for sustainable mobility."

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