For the first time in its 100-year history, Lincoln has created an actual concept car. The Model L100 Concept’s debut at Monterey Car Week, just ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élegance, simultaneously pays homage to the 1922 Model L (which the brand calls its “first luxury vehicle”) while encapsulating its vision for a future mobility experience and design elements to come.
“We were liberated from constraints,” Lincoln’s Design Director Kemal Curic shares. “I feel like this vehicle is a supercomputer on wheels.”
Created as an autonomous automobile, the Model L100 Concept features a pair of 16-foot-long doors and clamshell roof, as well as a center console “chessboard” and controller. Replacing a traditional steering wheel, the controller (imagine a crystal paperweight in the shape of the car) is moved around the console, a screen surface triple the side of an iPad. Forget floor mats—your feet rest on a larger, digital programmable screen. Recycled suede lines the interior, which can be configured as two rows of seats or a more social, booth-like hub.
“How does this transform our concept of luxury vehicles?” Curic ponders. “It allows us to completely rethink aspects such as entry and exit, controls and interfaces and interaction between passengers.”
Executives and engineers on the Model L100 Concept “allowed us to reimagine, outside the constraints of what is a Lincoln historically, what luxury travel can be,” says Ryan Niemiec, Lincoln’s Interior Design Chief.
The Model L100 Concept all but removes the physical act of driving from the vehicle and instead offers up a curated, contained space with the ability to transport passengers. It’s several feet longer than a Navigator, and practical details like parking and storage weren’t addressed—it is a concept vehicle, after all. Charging is as easy as parking over an inductive charging plate.
“It is a both a grand gesture but also a way for us to redefine the way a vehicle expresses itself,” says Niemiec. “Obviously lighting is the new chrome, that’s something we can apply to production vehicles. When we think about interior space, we want to make sure we’re rethinking what are luxury materials. Is used to be rare woods and leathers. Now, consumer preferences are changing.”
Lincoln executives and parent brand Ford Motor Company hope the unveiling produces not only excitement but also insight. Consider it a kind of crowdsourcing for the EV/AI age of vehicle production.
“Now that it’s out there, people can come in and say what they like and don’t like, if it feels like Lincoln or not. We can take this [feedback] and it will help us create a next generation of products,” says Anthony Lo, Ford Motor Company’s Chief Design Officer.
While the emphasis around car design has largely and historically been from the outside in, Niemiec and Lo both note that with the Model L100 Concept it was far more of an inside out approach.
“Imagine travel as no longer a burden but a reward. Think about the golden age of flying, when people dressed up,” Lo says. “There was something magical. It meant something. And that’s the mindset that we are trying to bring back with this concept—the ability to look forward to every part of the journey. The journey is the reward.”
In addition to marking the marque’s centennial anniversary and encouraging consumer participation, Lo believes that the Model L100 Concept has the potential to inspire both outside the company and, perhaps more importantly, within. “I think it is a product that will help the designers and others in the company,” says Lo. “They can say, ‘Wow, we can do that with a Lincoln.’”
Images courtesy of Lincoln