Several automakers will be releasing an entirely new breed of super cars within the next few years. These super cars will be unlike virtually anything else on the roads today. What makes them so unique? Do these vehicles sport monstrous gasoline engine and superchargers? No. Do they have that trademark deep rumble tone to their exhaust as they head on down the road? No. But what they do have is something unexpected in a super car. Batteries, electric motors, and no place for gasoline.
Both Audi with their upcoming e-tron and Mercedes with their SLG AMG eDrive will dare to venture into the super car category soon with vehicles powered by electricity. This is a daring move, but one that both companies will tackle with vehicles that appear to be up to the task on paper at least.
The e-tron packs 313 hp and 502 lb-ft or torque which scoots it to 60 mph in 4.8 second. Meanwhile, the SLS AMG eDrive packs an ever bigger wallop with 526 hp and 649 lb-ft of torque which propels it to 60 in under 4 seconds.
Both vehicles seem capable to tackle the super car segment, but Car and Driver magazine remains skeptics. Their report insists that electric drive vehicles are still not capable of achieving super car levels of performance and their review of both vehicles points out flaws.
First, the e-tron is only capable of a top speed of 124 mph, far short of super car status. The Mercedes will hit speeds over 125 mph, but is not expected to eclipse the 200 mph mark of some super cars. Each vehicle, with the pedal to the floor, would have a very limited range. Car and Driver estimates that wide open throttle driving would limit range to something well below 100 miles.
Their point is valid and acknowledged, but overlooks other data. A super car such as the Ferrari Enzo consumes upwards of one gallon of gasoline per minute at wide open throttle driving. Given a gas tank size of just over 20 gallons means that this Enzo could give you 20 minutes of flat out driving near 200 mph. Do the math and the range of the Enzo is about 60 miles at flat out speeds, a number that both electric vehicles could likely achieve.
Looking deeper into their review you will notice the top speed reference. Sure 200 mph sounds great, but it's illegal in this country. 125 mph may be nothing special, but this number still far exceeds the recognized speed limits on our roads.
There will always be several ways to examine any story. Car and Driver choose to slam the new technology for it's drawbacks while ignoring the numerous advantages that EVs offer. Gasoline free driving, no exhaust fumes, peaceful, quite cruising, and cheap fill-ups to name a few.
For those looking for a super car that makes a statement, both the Audi e-tron and the Mercedes SLS AMG eDrive are sure to please.
Source: Car and Driver Print Edition March 2010