Lincoln goes electric with Star Concept

Posted by Talbot Payne on April 21, 2022

In a glimpse of its electric ambitions, Lincoln introduced the Star Concept vehicle Wednesday. With its sleek proportions, cabinet doors, and high-tech interior, the Star evokes classic show car concepts of Lincoln’s past.

But with its skateboard battery platform and promise of driver-assist systems, the Star is more a rolling penthouse suite than a traditional automobile.

The Lincoln Star Concept is distinguished by a electro-magnetic glass frunk.

The concept previews three new electric models by 2025, when Lincoln expects half of its global volume to be battery-powered. Currently, Lincoln doesn’t sell an electric vehicle in a US market segment that is about 3% of U.S. sales volume.

To signify the radical change in drivetrain philosophy, the Star introduces a new face of Lincoln with a digital, jewel-like light show across the front fascia where Lincoln’s arched, metal-lattice grille used to be. That arched grille was introduced on the 2017 Continental sedan which was discontinued just three years later as customers rushed to SUVs.

“As Lincoln enters the next chapter in our transition to a zero-emissions future, the Lincoln Star Concept will lead the way,” said Lincoln boss Joy Falotico. “It is an excellent example of how we are redefining luxury for the next generation as we work to transform the vehicle into a third space — a true place of sanctuary.”

The sleek exterior and front light show are reminiscent of competitor Cadillac’s Lyriq SUV, the GM luxury brand’s first electric EV that will go on sale next month as a 2023 model. Both Lyriq and Star feature edgy, minimalist designs with narrow greenhouses sitting over rear-wheel-drive battery platforms.

In addition to new lighting signatures front and rear (a laced, horizontal light spans the rear), the Star is distinguished by a electro-magnetic glass frunk (the front of the truck where the gas engine once resided) that is transparent when the vehicle is in motion — opaque when stopped to hide the contents below.

Building on the Quiet Flight theme embodied in Lincoln’s just-refreshed Navigator full-size SUV, the concept’s new design language emphasizes what the Ford luxury brand calls its core “tenets of beauty, human, gliding and sanctuary.” The Navigator and its SUV siblings helped lead Lincoln to its best global sales in 21 years — up 7% in 2021.

“Electrification is removing many traditional vehicle design constraints, allowing us to reimagine what a vehicle can be,” said Ford design chief Anthony Lo. “The Star is a study of experiences and themes that push the boundaries of Lincoln design.”

The Star Concept seats four and in an interior that features digital displays, crystalline lighting and backlit doors.

The new design canvas is most obvious inside with a spacious cabin undisrupted by a an ICE driveline. The flexible space could be used for multiple layouts. For example, the Star’s rear cargo space boasts a lounge mode that transforms into an outdoor seat for tailgate parties or enjoying an outdoor destination.

The Star Concept’s four seats are wrapped in digital displays, crystalline lighting, and backlit doors that would embarrass a First Class Delta cabin.

The cabin is run by the Lincoln Intelligence System, a digital assistant designed to connect to other vehicles and charging infrastructure — as well as provide drive and park-assist features. In a nod to a self-driving future with common electric drivetrains, Lincoln’s Star intro made little mention of driving dynamics or system power.

The emphasis is on a passenger sanctuary while in traffic or on a long trip.

Animated digital displays combine with light, smell and sound to create unique interior moods aimed at bringing “the romance of travel back in a uniquely Lincoln way.” Moods include:

– Coastal Morning: features gentle, oceanic sounds, a fragrance of sea mist, and the warm glow of the sun with dynamic lighting to replicate a stroll on the beach at sunrise

– Mindful Vitality: meant to re-energize the senses, with invigorating, upbeat audio, dynamic  abstract artwork, soft, glowing lighting and a flowery fragrance.

– Evening Chill: mirrors dusk using a calming night soundtrack coordinated with night sky video and evergreen fragrance

The driver accesses drive modes via a floating console with a rotary shifter. Rear-seat passengers can recline in first class comfort with individual leg rests, curated storage for devices or slippers, and a fridge. A digital briefcase also provides safe storage, charging, and connectivity for digital devices.

Like the frunk, the A and D-pillars are transparent with a unique, 3D-printed metal latticework design. A panoramic roof bathes the interior in light.

The Star concept was introduced in Hollywood California where luxury EVs are all the rage and nearly half of the country’s EVs are sold.

“The Lincoln Star Concept has been a true labor of love for our team and provides us with a platform to test our design philosophy as we evolve our Quiet Flight DNA,” said Lincoln global design director Kemal Curic.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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