Lincoln Star EV concept sheds light on the future of the Ford luxury brand

  • The Lincoln Star concept aims to showcase the brand’s design philosophy, which encompasses tranquility, design-focused spaces and connected technology.
  • With scent, sound, transparent materials and complex light shows, Lincoln wants to present a multi-sensory approach to the driving experience.
  • This is just a concept, but Lincoln is promising three new electric vehicles by 2025.

    Like pretty much every automaker, Lincoln has its crosshairs centered on an electrified portfolio at this point. Just before Ford’s luxury marque unveiled its electric concept, Lincoln’s famous hood star emblem was visible beneath the translucent silk trim. As a presentation, it wasn’t subtle, but it did fit the theme of the presentation: light, transparency, and electricity. Lincoln President Joy Falotico says the brand will offer three new electric vehicles by 2025, with a goal of making half of its global volume EVs by 2030. The Lincoln Star concept – again, not so much with the subtlety of that name, but we appreciate the point – was created to showcase Lincoln’s approach to design and experience on an electric platform.

    Before retiring, Falotico spoke about Lincoln’s 100-year history and how looking to the past provides inspiration for the future. She specifically mentioned the late 1970s designer label Continentals and said that the current Black Badge series cars reflect the same level of personalized luxury – although unfortunately they don’t come in green Givenchy velor. Even without suede interiors, Lincoln has reported its best sales in 21 years, up 7 percent globally in 2021 from 2020, and is reaching a younger audience with an average buyer age in their early 50s Interior Comfort focuses and strives for airy spaces with architectural details and unexpectedly high quality materials, and a customer service experience grounded in its Black Label trimmings and boutique dealership experiences. It plans to build on that with upcoming EVs by creating a “third space” outside of an office or home where customers want to spend their time. With that, the sheet fell off.

    The star is a good concept because it is amazing. It doesn’t look like a lightly decorated production car; it looks unreasonable, abnormal, conceptual. Our first thought was an Apple wireless mouse, dramatically tilted and angular in the light. It’s almost shockingly unadorned on the sides, with a wide door between the wheels. This was a conscious design decision, says Earl Lucas, Lincoln’s chief exterior designer. “You can put too much into a design,” says Lucas. “Exaggerate the detail, more convex shapes on it. But it gets fussy and loses the elegance. And that’s the most important thing I have to convey with our brand, because the brand has to be noble and royal.

    “You know exotics when they have all the shovels and all that communicates a certain amount of testosterone. But if you go more elegant and simple, it says that this is a luxury premium brand and I stand by the test of time.”

    Lincoln, Lucas says, is confident enough in not needing wings and blades, but it relies heavily on lighting. EVs sit lower, and without the big grilles Lincoln has used to impress its gas-powered SUVs, it aims to attract attention by literally turning a spotlight on itself. The grille star glows, the headlights move and run up the see-through hood, illuminating a latticework beneath, and the lights change to greet the owner both inside and outside the car.

    Light shows aren’t new, but we were impressed by Lincoln’s use of transparent materials. The front bonnet is electrochromatic glass that lets in light while driving or dims to hide contents while parked. The A and D pillars are also transparent, with a structure created from a 3D-printed carbon honeycomb. Visibility and a sense of space were priorities in the intricate interior-exterior design. Things like the rear conveyor belt opening or the honeycomb columns may not be viable in immediate production, but they show a willingness to think of unusual conveniences that we think will be crucial in the EV market as the options for electric vehicles persist increase. Connectivity is another popular buzzword, represented here in the form of the Lincoln Attaché, a compartment in the rear door that acts as a ‘digital briefcase’, accommodating tablets or laptops while being charged and connected to Wi-Fi. You’ll never escape your Slack messages in the future, but at least you can sit somewhere comfortable to read them.

    Inside, the star takes full advantage of the large space with the somewhat-awaited swiveling front-seat-to-back-seat living room arrangement – we blame Syd Mead for making designers think we want to host tea parties in parking lots – but also offers lounge chairs, a fridge and extendable legrests. The front half of the cabin is lit from floor to door, and a curved screen sweeps across the dash. If this were a working vehicle rather than an exercise in the imagination, the screens would play different animations depending on your mood or time of day, connecting you to a digital assistant who could arrange car washes, make dinner reservations, or just find and park so you rotate your seats and could break out everything that was in the glass refrigerator.

    Since this is just a concept, we don’t have details on its powertrain. From what we can tell, there’s a two-stroke petrol engine in the back to get it on and off the stage, but Lincoln has a flexible battery architecture with options for single- and dual-engine configurations, so the production EVs should come with that capability to move and respectable performance and range numbers.

    Our favorite detail on the Star is the rear cargo area, which opens up in a blast of panels and hatches like some sort of two-jawed alien, only with the aim of providing a snug tailgate spot without eating your face. It looks like a perfect drive-in cinema machine. The star won’t be doing production, but hopefully the tailgating hatch will.

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