For the first time, an electrically-powered series production vehicle has lapped the Nürburgring Nordscheife in under eight minutes, and much to Audi’s chagrin it’s their rival Mercedes-Benz who’ve inked their name on the record books.

Last year the R8 e-tron came close with a lap time of 8:09.099 minutes after Audi engineers raised the standard car’s speed limit from 124 mph (200 km/h) to 155 mph (250 km/h). The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive required no such fettling – being already limited to 155mph – and was therefore able to put its full 740bhp to good use in setting a new record lap of 7:56.234 minutes.

The R8 e-tron is powered by two electric motors generating an output of 375bhp and 605lb-ft (820 Nm) of torque, whereas the SLS AMG Electric Drive deploys four electrical motors with a total output of 740bhp and maximum torque of 738lb-ft (1,000 Nm).

It’s not the fastest time set by an electric powered vehicle around the Nordschleife – last October Jochen Krumbach took a TMG EV-P002 around in just 7:22.329 minutes. Of course the Toyota Motorsports GmbH experimental vehicle is based on a Radical race car chassis, so the comparison is not really valid for a car which customers will soon be able to buy.


Previous Record Holders

R8e-tron-record-Audi Audi R8 e-tron – Last year Audi took its electric powered R8 around the Nürburgring in 8:09.099 minutes. Markus Winkelhock, nephew of former BMW DTM driver ‘Smokin’ Jo Winkelhock, was the man behind the wheel and the 32-year old set a succession of sub-9 minute laps to show that the e-tron’s performance was sustainable (when MINI set their lap record their was considerable doubt at the time if it would make the full 12.3 mile Nordscheife route.)
MINI E MINI E – A lap time of 9:51.45 minutes was set by MINI back in April 2010, but the more significant achievement at the time was being able to complete the 14.7 mile lap (at speed) on a single charge. The car went on to be used in customer trials, but has yet to reach production. The lessons have been carried forward into BMW’s ActiveE programme which is currently under trial with 700 Electronauts across the USA.
Peugeot EX1 Concept Peugeot EX1 Concept – A time of of 9:01.338 minutes was set by Peugeot’s futuristic concept in early 2011. It’s a concept, so there’s no chance of it reaching production, but important lessons were learned that Peugeot have applied to its recent electric hybrid powertrain.
Toyota TMG EV P002 Toyota TMG EV P002 – A Radical chassis powered by two electric motors has been used by Toyota to test its electric powertrain in extreme circumstances. The TMG EV P001 originally set a lap time of 7:47.794 minutes, followed by the upgraded TMG EV P002, which last October lapped the Nürburgring in 7:22.329 minutes.

The SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive goes on sale in Germany later this month priced at 416,500 Euros (incl. 19% VAT), and will become the company’s first ever electric powered production car. It has a range of 155 miles and accelerates from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds.

It was developed in-house by Mercedes-AMG GmbH using the expertise of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, UK, who are also responsible for the KERS hybrid expertise used in Mercedes-AMG’s Formula 1 cars.