Teaser sketch for Fisker Project Nina range-extended electric carEnlarge Photo
The 2012 New York Auto Show is almost upon us, and last night an unexpected invitation landed in journalist inboxes around the world.
The sender was shown as "Fisker Nina Reveal," and the graphic was the simple line drawing above.
The message inside was simply that Fisker Automotive would provide "a business update and a glimpse of our future" at an event on Tuesday, April 3, the night before show Media Days begin.
That "glimpse of our future" will likely be a full-size design model of the "Project Nina" mid-size range-extended electric car--named after one of Christopher Columbus's three ships. co-founder Henrik Fisker's daughter.
The design will give journalists, analysts, and Fisker fans a visual image for what has been, until now, only a conceptual plan discussed by Fisker executives.
And perhaps public attention on Fisker Automotive will shift from its business challenges and the late launch of its full-size 2012 Karma electric luxury sedan to a sexy new product.
We expect newly hired Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda to do much of the presenting, though Fisker himelf will undoubtedly conduct a portion of the evening's ceremonies.
Tom LasordaEnlarge Photo
We'll be curious to hear the business update, given Fisker's negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy over its frozen $529 million low-interest loans--which the company called just a "bump in the road"--its efforts to raise more private capital, and a steady drumbeat of reports about Fisker quality issues and even a few owner returns.
But the Nina unveiling is what the crowd will be waiting for.
We know that the Nina will use a BMW turbocharged four-cylinder engine to run its range-extending generator. We also know that Fisker plans a full model lineup, including a sedan, coupe, and crossover.
The model lineup came courtesy of the loose tongue of Vice President Joe Biden, who let it slip at a ceremony commemorating Fisker's $18 million acquisition of the former GM assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware, that built the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.
But while we would like to see a fully running Nina at the event in 10 days, we don't think we will.
2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012Enlarge Photo
Henrik Fisker said in February, at a long-delayed Fisker Karma drive event, that the company had prototype powertrains for the Nina in bench testing, but did not have any running "mules" or development vehicles for the Nina program.
So we expect to see a styling prototype, but not a fully fleshed-out, running concept car with a complete and working interior.
We hope we're wrong, of course.