This is the Lincoln L100 concept, Ford’s big bet to reinvigorate its quiet luxury brand 100 years after the Lincoln acquisition. As the first concept built with the contribution of Anthony Lou, Ford’s new chief design officer, set in 2021, the car will almost certainly never be released. However, it does illustrate Lincoln’s evolving viewpoint, and how the dusty brand plans to compete in a luxury car market that will soon be defined by electric and self-driving cars.
“If you think of private jets or luxury trains of the past, you really immerse yourself in travel. Travel becomes rewarding,” says Kemal Couric, Lincoln Director of Global Design. “We thought, what space is required. . . To create this personal haven? ”
While Lincoln was the best-selling luxury car brand in the United States in the late 1990s, decades have been tougher since then, as Lincoln slowly lost market share to overseas competitors and crossovers. Big cars like Lincoln look like a dusty artifact from the era of super cheap gas. Today, Tesla’s line of electric, streamlined cars dominate the luxury car market in America – defined by massive, ornately decorated, gas-slick cars.
These shifts drove Lincoln to China in 2014, where it has since gained a prominent foothold, thanks to the Cross Corsair. As of last year, Lincoln sold more cars in China than in the US, while Ford chose to do business with trucks and crossovers in the US, but because Lincoln promises an entire fleet of electric cars by 2030, removing combustion engines It gives designers a chance to rethink almost every element of the car, and who might want to buy one.
“With a solid battery pack, we can truly reimagine luxury travel,” Couric says.
Lincoln L100 Interior: A “Personal Haven”
To reimagine the feel of luxury travel, designers are starting to think about the experience inside the car rather than the outside. As Couric explains, they wanted to properly build a luxurious “personal sanctuary” cabin, and it was its proportions that propelled the L100 to its colossal proportions.
The entire vision of the L100 is based on achieving a completely independent future. As of last year, even Tesla admitted that it may never deliver on that promise. But it’s worth noting that a Ford spokesperson referred to the L100 as “moon shots,” meaning it’s not meant to look at future technology just for 5 or even 10 years, but possibly decades.
As such, the L100 celebrates the promise of fully functional self-driving just like other futuristic-looking car concepts, featuring seats that can flip inward to face each other when you drive the same car (which, according to Couric, will be a vast space. Most of the time ). However, when two people are riding alone, he imagines that they will choose to sit in the back “king and queen seats”, as if they were driving.
These seats float above the ground in a dramatic effect caused by the fact that the entire lower portion is a screen, creating effects similar to those seen at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games opening ceremony at the National Stadium. But the experience is hardly all screens. Most of the walls and ceiling of the L100 are glass with adjustable opacity, providing great views when you want it and privacy when you don’t.
To control the car, no wheel or tablet is pushed into the console. Instead, there’s a digital map amid the riders like backgammon, placing a crystal “chess piece” of the car where you want to go. It is an intentionally decorative focal point to give a superior touch to a digital user interface. (For the moments you want to drive, you can pick up this piece and drop it into the driver’s seat area, 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 in an airplane, the most enjoyable part for a pilot is taking off and landing,” Couric says. “It’s the same idea here.”
Lincoln L100 Exterior: A dramatic silhouette inspired by aerodynamics
Meanwhile, the exterior of the L100 extends more than 20 feet. It’s tall, but ironically not as long as its dimensions might make it pop. While it’s the tallest Lincoln ever, its front end (which doesn’t need a combustion engine inside) is actually the shortest in the brand’s history. 85% of the vehicle is dedicated to passenger space versus 60% in today’s vehicles.
Its dramatic silhouette is entirely inspired by aerodynamics, Couric claims, right down to its shrouded wheels that prevent air from picking up the wheel wells. Just like big cars burn more fuel than small cars, big electric vehicles still burn more electricity than small cars. This size affects range, cost of ownership, and environmental impact, so Lincoln designers work to take advantage of every part of the aerodynamics from the design.
Within these limitations, the L100 body is still able to express itself. Instead of traditional doors, its rear end opens with luxurious mechanical trim – a touch you might see on a high-end watch, polished to the shape of a car. For those worried about how you’ll get out in a tight parking space, I’m told sensors will monitor how wide the doors can open. But the car is clearly more designed to achieve an exciting access to the palace than to unload the family in the crowded Chilean car park.
The seamless front end abandons any grill, and instead features Lincoln’s signature new, glossy black front end featuring piano-stringed lines. (Car geeks may recognize this front end of the Lincoln Star EV concept, which debuted earlier this year. Ironically, while Lincoln released the Star to the public first, Lo tells me its design was actually inspired by the L100.)
While the glossy black spot has a striking effect, I can’t help but wonder why the car has a traditional front end at all. Self-driving electric vehicles—particularly those meant to spark decades of development, like the L100—basically don’t require a long hood because there’s neither an engine nor even a driver. So I asked Couric if Ford and Lincoln really believed that cars of the future would still be designed in this way, or if the L100’s design was a kind of delusional concession to our collective imagination that the public would find intriguing rather than outlandish. or expulsion.
Couric insists that despite what may be possible with technology in the future, cars will always be identified by their front face.
“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 it just isn’t going away.”