Lincoln gave students at the ArtCenter College of Design an unusual challenge. It asked them to sketch their idea of what its cars will look like in the year 2040, and it instructed them to team up with students specializing in other fields (including film and illustration) to create a short movie that depicts their concept, the environment it operates in, and the folks who drive it. Over a year in the making, the final submissions have been presented to the public.
"More than just the vehicles themselves, we were looking for that great narrative development, that rich storytelling. It's so important to understand the future ecosystem in which a concept vehicle will live," explained Jordan Meadows, the global strategic design specialist for Lincoln, in a statement.
Four teams of students participated in the project, which Lincoln called Quiet Flight 2040. Students received a basic set of guidelines that helped them create what the Ford-owned firm referred to as "the ultimate beautiful gliding human sanctuary," a term that's intentionally open to interpretation. Four body styles were chosen: a two-passenger car, a four-passenger vehicle, a different four-passenger model with a higher, SUV-like ride height and a six-seater.
Participants created the concepts from scratch and showcased them in short films. The design studies are crammed with futuristic features, including autonomous driving systems, a technology that displays images on the dashboard, touchscreens embedded into the door windows, and a lounge-like interior that wouldn't look out of place at the Consume Electronics Show (CES). One is a crossover with a fastback-like roof line, another is a stately sedan, a third is an elegant coupe and the last is a van-like vehicle that looks like nothing Lincoln has ever built before.
Nothing suggests these concepts will be built, let alone approved for production. What's certain is that, from a student's perspective, Lincoln's future looks a lot different than Polestar's. Volvo's upmarket offshoot held a similar contest in late 2020, and the finalists returned with a sci-fi blimp, an electric yacht and an autonomous pod.