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Fisker shows smaller Atlantic plug-in hybrid sedan in NY

Consumer Reports News: April 06, 2012 06:08 PM

This week, Fisker revealed the much-anticipated Atlantic plug-in hybrid sedan, the little brother to the Karma such as the one we recently bought to test.

Formerly known by its project codename, Nina, the Atlantic is smaller than the Karma, about the size of the Audi A5, says Fisker. That would make it about a foot and a half shorter than the Karma, and almost six inches narrower. It may also be slightly taller, though in photos it looks very similar.

The Atlantic is expected to cost about half as much as the Karma, based largely on a less expensive and more powerful lithium-ion battery pack. In an interview last month company founder Henrik Fisker told us he expects the battery to cost significantly less, and the smaller battery reportedly opens up more interior space than the 16.5-ft long, 5,300-lb. Karma, which the EPA rates as a subcompact in interior space.

Fisker-Atlantic-r.jpgLike the Karma, the Atlantic is a plug-in hybrid, which Fisker calls EVer, or electric vehicle with extended range. These sedans have no mechanical connection between the engine and the drive wheels. Instead, the gasoline engine simply acts as a generator to provide electricity to the (rear) drive wheels once the battery runs out of juice. Unlike the Karma, which uses a General Motors-sourced turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Atlantic will use one from BMW.

The most noteworthy thing about the Atlantic is that it will require Fisker to receive government loans from the Department 
of Energy to be built. While Fisker originally qualified for more than $500 million in such loans through the Advanced Vehicles Manufacturing Program (roughly $150 million to develop the Karma, and $350 million to build the Atlantic), the DOE suspended the remainder of those loans earlier this year after the Karma failed to reach sales targets. If Fisker succeeds in lobbying to get the loans reinstated, the Atlantic will be its first car built in the United States. It is planned to be built at a former General Motors factory in Delaware, which used to assemble the Pontiac Solstice.

Fisker is targeting the Atlantic to go on sale late next year. If the Atlantic gets built, we can only hope it proves more reliable than the Karma we bought to test.

See our complete New York auto show coverage.

Eric Evarts

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