Fighting off recent scandals, Fisker Automotive unveiled its second production car, the Atlantic, just ahead of the New York Auto Show. The sedan formerly known as Project Nina is smaller and less expensive than Fisker’s current model, the Karma, but shares an extended range electric powertrain and seductive styling by company cofounder Henrik Fisker.
As a crowd of schmoozing dealers and journalists looked on, Fisker dropped the curtain on the Atlantic, which the company has been hinting at for several months. Like its big brother, the most striking element of the Atlantic is its styling. “We don’t make concept cars and change them for production,” said Fisker, who designed the BMW Z8 and other exotic sports cars. It shows, especially in the steeply raked windshield and large, red-accented wheels.
Fisker said the design was meant to emphasize sportiness, while still being practical. Two character lines run along the doors and cross over at the rear wheel, emphasizing the Atlantic’s rear-wheel drive. Performance-minded buyers know that sending the power to the back wheels is better for handling. Like the Mercedes CLS and myriad other cars, the baby Fisker sedan is supposed to look like a two-door coupe. The Atlantic’s short overhangs give it a taut, lean look, but Fisker claims they also allow for a long wheelbase with more leg room.
Other details include the “Spider roof,” which has cross members that were designed for rollover protection, but stay out of the way of passengers’ heads. Like many luxury cars, the Atlantic has LED lights. However, Fisker went for an “ice” effect instead of the normal eyelash-like strips.
The Atlantic will copy the Karma’s “EV-ER” powertrain, an electric motor and batteries with a gasoline engine backup. Fisker said the powertrain is “top secret,” for now, but he did let slip that the gasoline engine will be a small BMW unit, and that the whole powertrain is smaller than the one in the Karma.
Fisker was also tight-lipped about the Atlantic’s price, only saying that it will start at a “much lower price point” than the Karma. More significantly, he said the new car would be close in price to an Audi A5, or the upper end of the BMW 3 Series range. A base A5 with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine costs $43,475, but other models cost as much as $60,000. That puts the Atlantic within spitting distance of the Tesla Model S’ $57,400 base price (loaded models will cost around $70,000).
Fisker made some unfortunate headlines recently when a Karma owned by Consumer Reports died during testing, causing battery supplier A123 Systems to start a recall. “I’m pretty sure Justin Bieber is now a subscriber to Consumer Reports,” Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda said in response to the criticism. Nonetheless, Henrik Fisker said he was happy with the Karma’s sales. “We actually overachieved on our internal goals,” the company founder said. Fisker Automotive has sold about 700 cars so far, and has apparently raised nearly enough money to begin production of the Atlantic. “This car will be built,” Fisker said, claiming the Atlantic is 90 percent complete. When it does reach production, the new Fisker will be built in a soon-to-be-opened factory in Wilmington, Delaware.
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