Lincoln unveiled Wednesday at an event in Hollywood its first fully electric concept vehicle: The Lincoln Star Concept, a crossover that looks a lot like a Corsair or Nautilus crossover with a longer, lower-slung body, sharper body creases highlighted with LED lighting effects and a few interesting offerings that are unlikely to make their debut on any future production vehicle.
The Lincoln Star Concept vehicle is a concept that is not going to end up on the production line. This is purely a research exercise and will be used to gauge customers’ interest in potential features and design styling for Lincoln’s plans to fully electrify half of its offerings by 2050. The presentation TechCrunch attended showed the Star Concept and several other vehicles that appear to be grand tourers or low-slung sedans, which is particularly interesting, given that Lincoln currently offers only SUVs and crossovers in the United States.
“We’re soliciting feedback and getting ideas with the Star Concept. The volume of proportions is something that obviously can sit two or three rows,” John Jraiche, the global director of luxury vehicles on enterprise product line management team at Lincoln said in an interview with TechCrunch. “In the lineup that we showed you in the presentation, each vehicle will serve a very unique purpose and I honestly think they don’t have proxies that are out in the market right now.”
While journalists were not permitted to take photos during the presentation preceding the embargo today, the slides clearly showed what looked to be lower, sleeker-looking sedan-style bodies under sheets alongside the Star Concept. When pressed on whether there might be a grand tourer or “sports”-style car coming from Lincoln, Jraiche demurred.
“You use the word ‘sports,’ … I think there’s a space for kind of a low-riding, long, low-roof, height vehicle. I wouldn’t necessarily use the term ‘sports car.’ I think there could be an opportunity for a form language, like the one I just kind of described. Kind of lower and more low-riding to the ground, lower ride, lower roof, height.”
If Lincoln does roll out a grand tourer or sedan it would represent a significant shift in Lincoln’s product plans since the company only currently sells crossovers and SUVs in the U.S. market. The company stopped selling the Continental sedan in the U.S. in 2020, just four years after announcing the return of the famed moniker, after Ford, Lincoln’s parent company, announced that it would only produce SUVs and crossovers for the U.S. market (with the exception of the Mustang).
There’s a very strong possibility that U.S. consumers may get a Lincoln based on the Mach E, which also has a lower ride height and fastback grand touring styling.
Lincoln targets China’s EV market
In reality, however, the U.S. isn’t the growth market for Lincoln; China is. If Lincoln does make a battery-EV grand touring sedan, it’s highly likely to be for the C hinese market and not for the U.S.
“China is really key to our future growth.” Joy Falotico, president at Lincoln said during the presentation. “Last year we sold more than 91,000 vehicles in China and that was the year over year increase of 48%.” Lincoln currently sells more vehicles in China than it does in the U.S.
In the spring of 2021, Lincoln announced the Zephyr — a sedan that is built and sold only in China. According to the company, they’ve taken more than 5,600 preorders for the vehicle since the announcement. The Lincoln Corsair (a crossover that is also available in the U.S.) is the top-selling nameplate in China for the last 23 months, according to the company.
“Sedans are strong in China,” Jraiche said later, echoing Falotico’s statement during the presentation. “The data says that is where the market is headed in the future with EV is yet to be seen but we have some forecasts and we think it’s going a low-riding vehicle with a low ride height and lower roof height. A low-slung vehicle.”
The Star concept certainly fits the low ride height and low-roofline styling, though it is more crossover or wagon-like than what Jraiche insinuated. Jraiche did drive home that what really matters the most when it comes to the future of Lincoln is content. “What you deliver inside the vehicle is going to be paramount,” he said. “What pain points are you solving for the customer? How do you use the compute power? What experiences are you going to deliver? We’re choosing to serve as a flexible driver environment.”
To that end, the concept included interesting touches like coach doors, front seats that swivel to create a living room-style space inside, hidden in-door storage for a laptop that can be mirrored to the vehicle’s internal screens, a drawer-style front trunk and a rear tailgate that turns into outdoor lounge seating.
While we’d certainly be excited to see any of these features show up on a production car from Lincoln, we doubt that we’ll see them in the form they take on the Star Concept. Beyond the Star Concept, Lincoln says it will have a total of four new all-electric vehicles by 2026. What shape they take and where they’ll be sold will remain to be seen.