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Mercedes Blew A Huge Electric Sports Car Lead

Illustration for article titled Mercedes Blew A Huge Electric Sports Car Lead
Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Seven whole years ago, Mercedes AMG was on the forefront of electric sports car technology. It had experimented with both a hydrogen-powered and a full battery electric vehicle version of its begullwing’d SLS AMG sports car, even going so far as to throw down an electric lap record at the Nordschleife [which has since been destroyed] back before there was really a market for EVs. I mean, the Tesla Model S hadn’t even been on the market for a full year by that point. Mercedes had a four-touchdown lead in the first quarter, and blew it.


In case you don’t remember, the Mercedes SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive was a limited edition electric sports car released in 2013. Only about 100 examples were built, but it packed one electric motor for each wheel, providing a combined 740 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. It was NEDC rated with a range of 160 miles from a 60 kWh liquid-cooled battery stack. All of this advanced Mercedes tech cost around $550,000 brand new.


The SLS EV was very advanced for 2013 tech, but it was still slightly slower than its 6.3-liter V8 brother, which partially explains why it was left behind as a footnote in EV history. The big V8 version made the 0-60 run a tenth of a second quicker, and bested it around the Nürburgring by about 30 seconds [keep in mind the EV version is limited to 150 mph], so it wasn’t that much quicker really, especially considering the 12-module battery pack was a massive 1208 pounds!

Aside from Tesla’s original Roadster, which was half-assed at best, there hadn’t been many attempts at an electric sports car. Especially from a legacy automaker like Mercedes. A couple years later Audi launched its electric failson R8 eTron, but it offered only 339 lb-ft of torque and carried a million dollar price tag.

I mean, come on! Look how elegant and advanced this shit is!

When I saw the electric SLS, I was convinced that Mercedes would trickle down the tech through its sports car lineup in subsequent years. That’s the point of a flagship tech center, right? Let the early adopters pay the premium for the newest of the new, then move the tech down the line for regular production in a handful of years? That’s what Mercedes does with S-class tech. It eventually ends up in the C! I hoped one day I’d see an electric SLK that I might be able to afford.

But the dream eventually died when Mercedes did fuck all with sporty EVs for the next seven years. I’m a little older and a little wiser these days, and I don’t just lose myself in love anymore. I don’t want my heart to be broken again. I’m cold and frigid because of you, Mercedes!

If Mercedes had held up its end of the bargain here, it could be at the forefront of electric tech in the sports car market. Instead, it developed an electric Smart, an A-class EV, and the gargantuan EQC SUV.

How dare you stand where he stood!
How dare you stand where he stood!
Image: Mercedes Benz

None of those are electric sports cars, Mercedes. If it had thrown its R&D might behind the future promised by the SLS electric drive, Mercedes could have blown up the electric hypercar market, beating the Lotus Evija to market, it could have had a competitive electric sport sedan to take the fight to Porsche’s Taycan, and it could have waxed the floor with Tesla’s still as-yet-unreleased Roadster 2.0.


Mercedes, the least you could do is give us a new AMG GT EV. Come on. We’ve been good this year. We deserve it.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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SBA's The Tesla Network Magnate... Real Soon Now

OTOH, “electric sports cars” is a tiny niche piece of a shrinking market.

“Spontaneous drive in the sports car on back roads” and “8 hour charge times” don’t exactly go well in the same sentence.