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

That’s two-thirds the length of a limousine. The floor is a digital screen. And instead of doors, the entire back of the vehicle blooms like a flower when you climb inside.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

This is the Lincoln Model L100 concept, Ford’s big effort to breathe new life into its sleepy luxury brand 100 years after it bought Lincoln. As the first concept created with input from Anthony Lo, Ford’s new design chief, who was hired in 2021, the vehicle will almost certainly never be released. Still, it demonstrates Lincoln’s view on development, and how the dusty brand plans to compete in a luxury car market that will soon be defined by electrification and self-driving vehicles.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

“If you think about private jets or luxury trains of the past, you really indulge in the journey. And the journey becomes rewarding,” says Kemal Curic, Lincoln’s global director of design. “We thought: What is the space needed? . . . to create this personal sanctuary?”

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

While Lincoln was America’s best-selling luxury car brand in the late ’90s, the decades since have been tougher, as Lincoln slowly lost market share to overseas 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, big, gas-guzzling vehicles — is dominated by Tesla’s line of streamlined electric cars.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

These changes saw Lincoln push into China in 2014, where it has since gained a notable foothold, thanks to the Corsair crossover. From 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 since Lincoln promises a full fleet of electric vehicles by 2030, the removal of combustion engines allows designers the opportunity to rethink almost every element of the vehicle, and who might want to buy one.

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

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

Lincoln Model L100 interior: “personal sanctuary”

To rethink the feeling of luxury travel, designers began to think about the experience inside the vehicle rather than outside. As Curic explains, they wanted to construct a truly opulent “personal sanctuary” cabin, and the proportions are what pushed the L100 to its gargantuan proportions.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

The whole vision of the L100 depends on us achieving a fully autonomous future. As of last year, even Tesla admitted it may never achieve that promise. But it’s worth noting that a Ford spokesperson referred to the L100 as a “moon shot,” meaning it’s not meant to look just 5 or even 10 years into future technology, but potentially decades.

[Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

As such, the L100 celebrates the promise of fully functional self-driving much like other futuristic-looking car concepts, with seats that can flip inwards when the car drives itself (which Curic says would be a huge majority of the time). However, when two people ride alone, he imagines that they choose to sit behind the “king and queen seats”, as if they were being chauffeured.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

These seats float above the floor in a dramatic effect that comes from the fact that the entire bottom is a screen, creating similar effects to those seen during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games at the National Stadium. But the experience is hardly all screens. Much of the L100’s walls and ceiling are actually glass with an adjustable opacity, offering generous views when you want them and privacy when you don’t.

[Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

To control the vehicle, there is no wheel or tablet pushed into the console. Instead, a digital map sits among riders like a board game, and you place a crystal “chess piece” of the vehicle where you want to go. It’s a purposefully embellished touch point to bring premium tactility to an otherwise digital user interface. (For those moments when you want to drive, you’ll grab this piece and anchor it in the driver’s seat, where you can steer the car forward, backward, left, and right with the help of its self-driving sensors.)

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

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

Lincoln Model L100 exterior: dramatic silhouette inspired by aerodynamics

Meanwhile, the exterior of the L100 stretches more than 20 feet long. It is long, but paradoxically not as long as the proportions might make it appear. While it’s the longest Lincoln ever, the front end (which needs no internal combustion engine) is actually the shortest in the brand’s history. 85% of the vehicle is dedicated to the passenger space compared to 60% in today’s vehicles.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

The dramatic silhouette is completely inspired by aerodynamics, Curic claims, right down to the covered wheels that prevent air from being trapped in the wheel wells. In the same way that large cars use more fuel than small ones, large electric cars still burn more electricity than small ones. This size affects range, cost of ownership and environmental impact, so Lincoln’s designers work to squeeze every bit of aerodynamics out of the design.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

Within these limitations, the L100’s body still manages to express itself. Instead of typical doors, the rear end opens with a sumptuous mechanical flourish – a touch you might see in an exclusive watch, scaled to a car. For those concerned about how to get out of a tight parking space, I’m told sensors will monitor how wide the doors can open. But the vehicle is clearly designed more for making a dramatic arrival at a mansion rather than unpacking the family in a crowded Chili’s parking lot.

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

The seamless front end forgoes any grille, and instead features Lincoln’s new signature, a glossy black front end that features piano string lines. (Vehicle geeks may recognize this front end from Lincoln’s Star EV concept, which debuted earlier this year. Paradoxically, while Lincoln released the Star to the public first, Lo tells me the design was actually informed by the L100.)

[Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

While the glossy black splash makes for an eye-catching effect, I can’t help but wonder why the car has a traditional front end at all. Self-driving electric cars—especially those meant to tease decades of progress, like the L100—basically don’t require a long hood since there’s no engine and even no driver. So I ask Curic if Ford and Lincoln really believe that the cars of the future will still be designed this way, or if the L100 design is a bit of a fictional concession to our collective imagination so that audiences will find it exciting rather than alien or terrifying .

[Image: courtesy Ford Motor Company]

Curic insists that, despite what may be possible with technology in the future, cars will always be defined by the front.

“There’s something about the 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 to go away.”

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