Fisker to open tech center in Midwest US to aid Atlantic development

Article by Anita Panait, on November 18, 2012

Fisker Automotive is planning to open a tech center in the Midwest to aid in the development of its second hybrid vehicle, the Atlantic. The carmaker is considering a plan to set up the tech center in Michigan, but has declined to say whether it would build a center or lease existing space. Around three years ago, Fisker shut down its engineering office in Detroit and moved its 30 full-time employees to its headquarters in Southern California.

A spokesman for the hybrid car maker noted that several of Fisker's key suppliers are located in the upper Midwest and a tech center in the region would provide more convenience to its Wilmington plant in Delaware. Fisker acquired the Wilmington plant from General Motors in 2009. This year, Fisker stopped preparations to produce the Atlantic at the Wilmington plant after the carmaker lost access to millions of dollars of federal funding because of missed business development milestones.

According to reports by Reuters, Fisker has delayed Atlantic production for at least two years, and the carmaker is now planning to commence it in late 2014 or 2015. The Atlantic is a mid-sized plug-in hybrid sedan that could fetch a starting price of around $50,000 to $60,000. Fisker’s first model, the Karma plug-in hybrid sedan, has been hit by production delays as well as quality issues.

Consumer Reports magazine recently published a negative review of the Karma, saying that it is "plagued with flaws." Earlier this year, a Karma tested by Consumer Reports failed following a problem with the battery produced by A123 Systems. This prompted A123 to recall all the Fisker battery packs. Interestingly, A123 has collapsed and is now operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Fisker Atlantic design prototype is essentially a premium four-door sporting sedan that boasts of having a practical interior. Unveiled during a special VIP preview event on the eve of the 2012 New York Auto Show press days, the Fisker Atlantic study is targeted towards young families seeking a high-end vehicle that allows them to stay true to their commitment to sustainability while offering high level of daily practicalities. It employs the second generation EVer (Electric Vehicle with extended range) technology, which has all the advantages of an electric drive but without the so-called "range anxiety" common with an electric powertrain.

Atlantic design prototype is essentially a plug-in series hybrid vehicle that enables switching -- manually or automatically -- between electric and gasoline driving modes.

Moreover, this hybrid plug-in series hybrid could continually recharge its lithium ion batteries even when on the move, thanks to its four-cylinder gasoline engine that could also serve as a generator. To allow this, the engine is not mechanically connected to the wheels. Tuned to deliver optimal economy and high torque, the EVer powertrain is configured to send power to the rear wheels, although Fisker is developing an all-wheel drive version of the Atlantic.

Interestingly, the glass roof of the Atlantic features a ridged 'spider' structure – a strong roof construction that allows the plug-in series hybrid vehicle to offer generous headroom on the rear cabin while giving it a coupe-like stance.

Thanks to this innovative construction, the Fisker Atlantic is able to comply with all existing and even future rollover safety and crash-test requirements. Meanwhile, the vehicle is provided with a long wheelbase, which in turn allows it to offer more legroom in the rear passengers and more space in the trunk.

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