Mercedes-Benz showed off the lightweight design and technology that will underpin its future sports cars at this week’s Frankfurt motor show.
The Stuttgart marque displayed the body shell from its high-performance, battery-powered SLS AMG E-Cell, the four-wheel-drive concept car first seen in the middle of last year.
The key element of the body shell is a transmission tunnel made out of lightweight carbonfibre composite material (CFRP), which is structurally integrated into the aluminium shell itself.
The stiff, high-strength CFRP component helps to reduce weight, while also serving as a monocoque housing for the battery modules. The carbonfibre battery monocoque in the SLS AMG E-Cell forms an integral part of the body shell and acts as the vehicle's ‘spine’, as well as creating a zero-intrusion cell that protects the batteries from damage in the event of an accident.
The use of carbonfibre means the SLS AMG E-Cell's transmission tunnel is about 30 per cent lighter than the transmission tunnel in a standard SLS, which helps to offset the extra weight of the batteries.
CFRP components play an important role in Mercedes-Benz and AMG's lightweight design strategy for the future. The German manufacturer is planning to reduce the body weight of all its vehicles by 10 per cent by making increased use of high-strength steels, aluminium and carbonfibre-reinforced plastics.
The SLS AMG E-Cell prototype can get from 0-62mph in a claimed 4.0sec. Its lithium polymer batteries are split between a box behind the cockpit and the centre tunnel.