What have Mercedes engineers strapped onto this electric sports coupe?

Mercedes-Benz has once again been spied testing something incredibly weird on the Nürburgring. The company has taken an SLS AMG E-Cell out of retirement and loaded it with equipment for lapping the famous track. The bizarre setup immediately raises the question of what the company might be doing. 

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Test Mule

The coupe has slightly different setups when driving on general roads and running on the track. While on the 'Ring, the lights on each corner of these rigs tilt downward and shine on the vehicle. On the street, they are out of the way.

There appears to be a wide array of sensors on the vehicle, possibly including cameras, Lidar modules, and gyroscopic sensors. One possibility equipping the SLS with so many items is that Mercedes is testing new EV equipment and wants to collect significant amounts of data at once. The German automaker has been making an electrification push recently, and the engineers might have equipped this one with new parts for evaluation at the Nürburgring.

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As evidence of this possibility, Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers admitted earlier this year that new fully electric models were on the performance division's agenda. Using the SLS E-Cell as a mule for early equipment testing might be a good starting place for this future.

Motor1.com Video Editor James Bradbury offered an intriguing alternative theory. Given the E-Cell's color, Mercedes might be using it as a mobile green screen. The company could film the SLS lapping the track and then digitally replace the EV with another vehicle during editing. The lack of an engine to make noise might make this particular model an even better platform for the job because someone could add a new sound while putting together the footage. While unlikely, it's an interesting idea.

Source: Automotive Mike via YouTube

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell Bizarre Test Mule