Electricity is held by many in the industry to be the true way of the future, but so far only a tiny handful of companies have made serious attempts at a highway-capable production electric vehicle--and aside from the electric Smart, Daimler and Mercedes-Benz haven't been among them. But now the brand's AMG division is skipping straight over the mundane family tourer, today revealing an all-electric supercar built on the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG platform at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show.

As previously reported, the car bears the same name as its V-8-engined counterpart, the standard SLS AMG, but instead of pumping 571 horsepower out of a single engine, the electric drive SLS AMG generates a total of 525 horsepower from its four corner-mounted electric motors. Torque of the electric model tops out at a heady 650 pound-feet.

By using four motors, the SLS AMG's all-wheel drive system can modulate power to each individual wheel far more precisely and efficiently than any torque vectoring solution. Two transmissions--one for each axle--help to distribute power. Mercedes intentionally skipped mounting the motors in the wheels to reduce unsprung weight.

"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," said Volker Mornhinweg, Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

Performance of the car will be very close to the combustion-engine version, with the 0-62 mph slipping by in just 4.0 seconds--0.2 seconds off the V-8 pace.

Of course, the electric SLS AMG will have a good deal of weight to deal with in the form of its 400 Volt, 48 kWh total battery pack, which is located where the transmission tunnel is in the V-8 model, while the engine bay is also used for some of the electronics. Despite the addition of all the new drivetrain equipment, the gullwing body required no structural modifications, and due to the modularity of the electric drive system, it can all be positioned very low in the chassis to improve the center of gravity.

Unfortunately, no clear time frame for the car's development and release was announced, so we'll likely have to wait several years before it hits the streets. Also undisclosed is the electric SLS AMG's range on a single charge.

Mercedes has also confirmed today that the SLS AMG with electric drive will go on sale in 2013.