Ford’s new vision for Lincoln is a sleek EV, almost as long as a limousine

It is two-thirds the length of a limousine. The floor is a digital screen. And instead of doors, the entire rear of the vehicle blooms like a flower when you get in.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]This is the Lincoln Model L100 concept, Ford’s big commitment to reinvigorate its sleepy luxury brand 100 years after Lincoln’s acquisition. As the first concept to come about with the input of Anthony Lo, Ford’s new Chief Design Officer, who was hired in 2021, the vehicle will almost certainly never be released. Still, it demonstrates Lincoln’s evolving stance and how the dusty brand is developing strategy to compete in a luxury car market that will soon be defined by electrification and self-driving vehicles.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]“When you think about private jets or luxury trains in the past, you really enjoy traveling. And the travel becomes worth it,” said Kemal Curic, Lincoln’s global design director. “We thought: what is the space that is needed . . . to create this personal sanctuary?”

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]Although Lincoln was the top-selling luxury car brand in the US in the late 1990s, the decades since then have been rougher as Lincoln slowly lost market share to foreign competitors and crossovers; big cars like Lincolns feel like a dusty artifact from an era of ultra cheap gas. Today, the U.S. luxury car market—once defined by ornately decorated, hulking, throttled vehicles—is dominated by Tesla’s line of sleek electric cars.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]These shifts led Lincoln to invade China in 2014, where it has since gained a remarkable foothold thanks to its Corsair crossover. Last year Lincoln sold more cars in China than in the US, while Ford chose to go all-in with trucks and crossovers in the US. But as Lincoln promises a full fleet of electric vehicles by 2030, removing internal combustion engines gives designers an opportunity to rethink nearly every element of the vehicle, and who might want to buy one.

“With a solid-state battery pack, we can really reinvent luxury travel,” says Curic.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

The Lincoln Model L100 Interior: “Personal Sanctuary”

To re-imagine the thrill of luxury travel, designers began to think about the experience inside the vehicle rather than outside. As Curic explains, they wanted to build a pretty lavish “personal sanctuary” cabin, and the proportions pushed the L100 to its gargantuan proportions.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]The entire vision of the L100 depends on achieving a fully autonomous future. Last year, even Tesla admitted it might never deliver on that promise. But it’s worth noting that a Ford spokesperson called the L100 a “moonshot,” meaning it’s not meant to look just 5 or even 10 years into future technology, but possibly decades.

[Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company]As such, the L100 celebrates the promise of fully functional self-driving cars, like other forward-looking car concepts, with seats that can pivot inward to face each other when the car itself is driving (which, Curic says, is a huge deal most of the time). However, if two people are driving alone, he imagines they would choose to sit in the back of the king-and-queen seats, as if they were being served by a driver.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]These seats float above the floor in a dramatic effect that comes from the entire bottom being a screen, creating similar effects to the opening ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games at the National Stadium. But the experience is hardly all screens. Many of the L100’s walls and ceiling are actually glass with adjustable coverage, providing a generous view when you want it and privacy when you don’t.

[Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company]There is no wheel or tablet slid into the console to steer the vehicle. Instead, a digital map sits amid riders like a board game, placing a crystal “chess piece” from the vehicle on where you want to go. It’s an intentionally graceful touchpoint to give premium tactility to an otherwise digital user interface. (For those times when you would like to drive, you would grab this piece and place it in the driver’s seat, where you can steer the car forward, backward, left and right with the help of the self-driving sensors.)

“If you compare it to the autopilot on an airplane, the most fun part about the pilot is taking off and landing,” Curic says. “It’s the same idea here.”

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

The exterior of the Lincoln Model L100: dramatic silhouette based on aerodynamics

Meanwhile, the exterior of the L100 stretches over 20 feet in length. It is long, but paradoxically not as long as the proportions make it seem. While it’s the longest Lincoln ever, the front end (which doesn’t require an internal combustion engine) is actually the shortest in the brand’s history. 85% of the vehicle is destined for the passenger compartment, compared to 60% in today’s vehicles.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]Its dramatic silhouette is fully informed by aerodynamics, Curic claims, right down to the capped wheels that prevent air from getting trapped in the wheel arches. Just as large cars use more fuel than small ones, large EVs still use more electricity than small ones. This size affects range, cost of ownership and environmental impact, which is why Lincoln designers work to take every bit of aerodynamics out of the design.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]Within these constraints, the L100’s body still manages to express itself. Instead of typical doors, the back opens with a luscious mechanical bloom – a touch you might see in a high-end watch scaled to a car. For those concerned about how you might get out of a tight parking space, I’m told sensors would monitor how wide the doors could open. But the vehicle is clearly designed more to make a dramatic arrival at a mansion than to unpack the family in a crowded parking lot in Chile.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]The seamless front leaves any grille and instead features Lincoln’s new signature, a gloss black front with piano-string lines. (Vehicle geeks might recognize this front end from Lincoln’s Star EV concept, which debuted earlier this year. Paradoxically, while Lincoln was the first to release the Star to the public, Lo tells me the design was actually informed by the L100.)

[Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company]While the glossy black splash gives a striking effect, I wonder why the car has a traditional front end at all. Self-driving EVs, especially those intended to drive decades of progress like the L100, basically don’t need a long hood because there’s no engine and not even a driver. So I ask Curic whether Ford and Lincoln really believe that cars of the future will still be designed this way, or whether the L100 design is a bit of a fictional concession to our collective imagination so that the public can make it intriguing rather than alien. will find or repellent.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]Curic insists that, despite what may be possible with technology in the future, cars will always be defined by their front end.

“There’s something about personality that we don’t want to give up,” he says. “It’s like being human. We all have individual faces and different personalities, and that’s not going away.”

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