Henry Ford purchased the Lincoln Motor Company from Henry M. Leland almost exactly 100 years ago, and while both men were visionary captains of industry, they likely couldn’t have foreseen the Lincoln Star Concept that made its world debut tonight.
I’m not suggesting the twin Henrys couldn’t predict the Star Concept’s sleek, aerodynamically-efficient exterior shape, or even the rear- or all-wheel-drive electric powertrain options that motivate Lincoln’s new concept car. But the list of forward-looking features on this vehicle includes items that would have been hard to conceive for even the most imaginary folks in 1922.
Much of the Star Concept’s exterior is an extension of where Lincoln has been heading in recent years. The overall proportions and profile have a familiar “Lincoln-ness” in areas like the roofline and panel contours, which Lincoln calls “Quite Flight 2.0”. And the exterior lighting, an area where Lincoln has already focused on creating brand identity, is similarly familiar, though one could argue the Star Concept’s exterior lighting is more revolutionary than evolutionary.
Upon first glance you immediately note the mesh light pattern in the grille and trailing edge of the hood’s light bar. But closer inspection reveals the flush, jewel-like treatment of the Lincoln star emblems and, more impressively, the complex structure of the taillight, which — trust me — is hard to appreciate without seeing in person. Additional exterior lighting elements include the wheel well and roofline accents, which manage to be both subtle and impactful — especially, once again, when viewing the Star Concept in person.
While this combination of exterior light treatment makes for quite a “Lincoln Embrace” as you approach the vehicle, opening the clamshell side doors (ala 1960s Continental sedans) is where the design goes beyond traditional concept car. The Lincoln’s Star Concept cabin points to the future with an innovative combination of materials, technology, lighting, overall layout, and even an olfactory element.
The wide windshield is framed by transparent A-pillars featuring a lattice pattern. A similar pattern repeats in the illuminated door panels and center console. The low, wide display screen doesn’t impinge on outward visibility, while a lean dash sits above parallel floorboard lighting and clear, crystal pedals. Both front seats can swivel 360 degrees, allowing easier interaction between all four passengers, and with no engine or driveshafts to accommodate, designers were able to maximize the Star Concept’s interior space. Lincoln representatives told us the Star Concept’s interior materials represent renewable alternatives to leather and chrome.
Lincoln says its future cars will use Android-powered technology to create the Lincoln Intelligence System, offering next-gen connectivity for seamless productivity and relaxation options. On the relaxation front, the Star Concept offers “Rejuvenation Modes” that combine the car’s advanced lighting and display screens with sound, and even specific scents, to create one of three themes — Coastal Morning, Mindful Vitality, Evening Chill. We experienced all three modes using virtual reality technology and appreciate where Lincoln is headed. We’re anxious to see what a production version of this technology might look (and feel, and sound, and smell) like.
Lincoln, like every brand, is facing the most dynamic automotive market in the history of the industry. The company is coming off its best sales year in four decades, and is planning to launch four electric vehicles by 2026.That might sound aggressive, but Lincoln expects premium EV sales to triple by the end of the decade, and it sees China continuing to lead the market in electric vehicle adoption. Lincoln’s sales were up 48% in China last year, and it will need full EVs to maintain that momentum in the world’s largest car market. Which is yet another facet of today’s automotive industry that both Henry Ford and Henry M. Leland might not have foreseen 100 years ago.