Ford announces Lincoln Star electric SUV concept
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Ford announces Lincoln Star electric SUV concept

Ford announces Lincoln Star electric SUV concept

The automobile manufacturer plans to introduce four new EVs into its Lincoln lineup by 2026

One of America’s oldest luxury brands introduced its first-ever concept for an electric vehicle, the Lincoln Star Concept, Thursday as Ford Motor company’s luxury line plays catch-up with premium competitors that have already plugged in.

The elongated SUV has large wheels that look like discs and a flat roofline angled down in the rear, ostensibly to improve aerodynamics. Although it’s not a running, driving model, and the company did not release any performance estimates, the Star Concept is the first tangible indicator of the brand’s promise to deliver three fully electric vehicles by 2025 and a fourth by 2026.

“In 2017 there were only five premium electric vehicles, today there are 48, and by the end of the decade premium EV sales will triple,” Lincoln president Joy Falotico said during a press preview on April 19. “So now is our moment.”

The vehicle comes with a top half largely encased in glass, with a see-through roof that can be darkened manually and 3D-printed front and rear pillars that allow light to flow into the cabin through their lattice-work design.

It combines retro and futuristic elements: Coach-style rear doors resemble the old Lincoln Continentals from the 1960s that had the same configuration; under the steering wheel, a single clear plastic pedal splits in half—one side to brake, the other to accelerate.

The cabin is illuminated in soft lighting from glowing pinstripes in the floor, door panels, and ceiling. Clever hidden storage for shoes and a cabinet for chilled beverages are meant to make the back of the vehicle feel like a comfortable lounge or executive office.

But not much in the car felt novel. Automakers from Cadillac to Rolls-Royce already offer refrigerated compartments and coolers; mood-changing color, sound and fragrance elements like those promised in the Lincoln concept car have been a staple of Mercedes production cars for years. Its glass top echoes those already in production from General Motors’ Hummer EV and Lucid’s Air, both of which have transparent roof panels.

Lincoln executives have long said that by 2026, half the marque’s global sales volume will come from hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. But the 100-year-old brand lags behind virtually every other luxury carmaker when it comes to producing an EV. Growth at the top end has been much quicker than the mainstream: EVs account for 20 per cent of sales of luxury vehicles, compared with just 2 per cent of mainstream sales.

Audi, BMW, Hummer, Lucid, Mercedes-Benz, Polestar, Porsche, Rivian, and Tesla all currently sell pure EVs; on March 21, Lincoln’s own cross-town competitor Cadillac started production of its electric SUV, Lyriq, nearly a year ahead of initial schedules.

Parent-company Ford is trying hard to make the conversion with its F-150 Lightning, although its plans don’t necessarily translate to Lincoln moving quickly to electric. Ford chief executive officer Jim Farley recently boosted the company’s spending target on EVs by 66 per cent, to $50bn by 2026, but delayed plans for an electric version of the Lincoln Aviator SUV so the company could boost production of the electric Mustang Mach-E. A spokesperson declined to share further details related to Aviator’s immediate and future manufacturing plans.

Currently, Lincoln sells the Aviator and Corsair as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and will eventually offer a full-hybrid version of the Zephyr in China, according to the spokesperson. “China is key to our future growth,” Falotico said at the event. In 2021, Lincoln sold more than 91,000 vehicles in China, a 48 per cent increase over 2020.

Design projects like the Star Concept are best interpreted as pitches to parent-company board members about what a brand could do if afforded the budget and go-ahead. They also offer clues to consumers about what actual production vehicles may look and feel like in the future.

“It’s an always an ongoing relationship, so the vehicles are going to get better over time,” Lincoln design director Kemal Curic said during the press preview, noting that designing the Star Concept had been “a true labor of love.”

He declined to specify whether he thought a similar vehicle would ever reach production.

Read: Six million electric cars will be shipped in 2022 – Gartner

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