While the Ford brand has been generating a lot of buzz – and strong sales – with its first two long-range battery electric vehicles, the Lincoln brand has been sitting on the sidelines. But the L100 Concept, which debuted this weekend, shows it’s finally ready to get into the game.
And when it does, Lincoln may have a leg up on the competition — at least if the prototype is any indication. It uses “next-generation battery cell and pack technologies,” the luxury brand said in a statement. While not offering specific details, Ford is already field-testing solid-state batteries that could provide major advantages over current lithium-ion technology.
Debuting at the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the L100 Concept arrives at an important time for Lincoln, marking the brand’s 100th anniversary. “Lincoln has always been special to me and my family, especially my father and grandfather,” said Ford President Bill Ford Jr. “If there’s one secret to Lincoln’s longevity, it’s the brand’s ability to balance its core values with a desire to innovate and create the future.”
Looking for recovery
After years of decline – with former Ford CEO Alan Mullally seriously considering killing the brand – Lincoln is struggling to regain its former glory. Among other things, it adopted a new design language and reoriented its range. And products like the Aviator SUV have begun to regain their momentum.
However, the L100 takes off in a new direction, reflecting both the challenges and the freedom offered by battery electric technology.
The concept is long, low and wide, embracing some classic luxury traits while clearly emphasizing the aerodynamic details needed to maximize EV range and performance.
There is no conventional grille, and no engine compartment that needs cooling air. A wraparound light bar runs across the nose of the crossover and up the hood cutouts. Illuminated logos on the nose and front fenders make it clear that this is a Lincoln. What the brand describes as “smart wheel covers” help reduce wind resistance while using light, Lincoln says, “to communicate movement, battery life and human presence.”
The L100 features an all-glass roof and reverse-opening doors. Its rear features broad shoulders and a large, rotating hatchback.
As the driver approaches, the vehicle prepares itself by, among other things, triggering a “symphony of light” and preparing the cabin and vehicle settings.
The interior is bathed in suede with an amethyst accent made from recycled plastic. Other materials, the automaker notes, do not contain animals.
“The digital floor, canopy and ambient lighting harmonize to create a personalized experience that can enhance your mood,” Lincoln said in a statement. “Orchestrated like a finely tuned symphony together with interior lighting that harmonizes with sound, scent and touch, the digital floor transports passengers to the sanctuary of tomorrow.”
Among the quirkier details, the interactive center console includes a jewel-like checkerboard controller. Among other things, it replaces the conventional steering wheel.
The seats in the cabin can be reconfigured to create a “social” layout that is “tailored for the occasion”. Since front and rear passengers can sit face-to-face, this suggests that the Lincoln L100 concept is intended to offer fully autonomous driving capabilities.
Unfortunately, Lincoln offers little more than vague details about the car’s technology, other than noting that it’s a battery-electric vehicle.
But it’s easy to assume that these “next-generation” batteries are solid-state, a technology expected to supplant current lithium-ion chemistry by the start of the second half of this decade. Ford has invested heavily in Colorado-based Solid Power, one of the perceived leaders in solid-state battery development.
It is widely believed that they will offer a number of advantages, including greater energy density – meaning smaller, lighter batteries with significantly greater range. They are expected to cost less and charge much faster. And by eliminating the gel used in conventional batteries, the solid-state technology should eliminate the fire risk associated with current cell chemistry.
“Concept cars allow us to reimagine and illustrate how new experiences can come to life using advanced technology and give our designers more creative freedom than ever before,” said Anthony Lo, Ford Motor Co. chief designer. “With the L100, we’ve been able to push the boundaries in ways that advance our Quiet Flight brand DNA and change the way we think about tomorrow’s Lincoln design.”