The Fisker Atlantic has been unveiled at the 2012 New York motor show as the ambitious electric-car maker counters some negative publicity regarding its first model, the Karma.

Fisker Atlantic

It’s still not easy being a start-up car manufacturer—particularly one in the field of alternative fuel. Despite the fact that these vehicles continue to grab headlines around the globe, the reality is that sales figures have not kept pace. Also, it goes without saying that these vehicles lick the edge of the envelope in terms of technology—in other words, they’re daring—and components might not always work as intended.

Fisker Automotive's debut vehicle, the Karma, is a drop-dead gorgeous example of automotive design that also features no small amount of innovative engineering. But there have been some potholes along the company’s road to success.

The battery pack that powers the extended-range luxury hybrid has had some technical difficulties and production delays have prevented the company from triggering much-needed financial assistance from the U.S. federal government.

Nevertheless, the evening prior to the start of the New York International Auto Show, the company launched a bit of a surprise by hosting an off-site event at Highline Studios in Chelsea. The reason: the introduction of a prototype version of the company’s second model, a smaller saloon called the Atlantic.

This car has been much anticipated by Fisker Automotive because it promises to bring to market a lower-priced vehicle that uses the Ever hybrid drive system that was pioneered by the Karma. It’s also a signal to the gathered media that the company may be a bit down due to recent bad press, but it’s not out.

Upon first glance, the Atlantic is very clearly a product of Fisker Automotive. The aggressive front grille and upswept treatment at the back are minor variations on themes introduced with the Karma. But the profile of the new car is much different, understandable given that it’s much shorter than the decidedly lengthy Karma.

Under the skin, there are differences as well. The Atlantic features the second-generation of the Ever system, so improvements in battery technology—range and weight, for example—are to be expected. The range-extending petrol engine for the car will be a 4-cylinder sourced from BMW. There were no specifics regarding power output or range provided at the event or in the subsequent press release.

In terms of appearance, apart from dimensions, the biggest difference between the Atlantic and the Karma is found up top: The Atlantic does incorporate a glass roof, yes, but this one has an interesting spider-like design made of support panels. This approach offers added structural rigidity, plus extra headroom for rear-seat passengers. According to the carmaker, the unique design surpasses all current and future rollover and crash-safety standards.

When the Atlantic does enter production—no firm date on that yet, either—it is expected to compete head-on with the likes of the Audi A5 and BMW 3-Series. In terms of size, the coupe-like saloon is comparable to both. And the manufacturer has promised a price in line with what the upper range of the non-M3 3-Series vehicles cost—something in the order of US$45,000—so less than half of what the Karma currently runs.