Lincoln to introduce four new battery-electric vehicles starting next year

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Lincoln is following the buzz of Ford Motor Co.'s Capital Markets Day last month with plans to introduce four new battery-electric vehicles around its anchor products by the end of the decade — with the first coming next year.

The luxury brand provided a focused perspective on what Ford's plans to invest $30 billion in electrification by 2025 and grow its connected vehicle services mean for it. Although Ford is first introducing full EVs as a Mustang SUV and an F-150 pickup truck, EVs represent a larger percentage of the luxury market than the mass-vehicle market. With a full lineup of electrified vehicles by 2030, Lincoln expects a majority of its sales globally will be fully electric by 2026.

Lincoln's portfolio will be fully electrified by 2030.

"You typically see luxury clients more as tech adopters and certainly with the propulsion paired with that connectivity and that intelligence you get in the vehicle and those digital experiences, it makes sense we’re seeing that," Lincoln President Joy Falotico said during a virtual news conference this week. "It’s going to be a transition period, and we want to make sure we have what clients want."

Unlike General Motors Co.'s Cadillac, which has said it will sell only EVs by 2030, there still will be internal combustion engine and plug-in hybrid vehicles for certain Lincoln models by then, spokeswoman Anika Salceda-Wycoco said. But Lincoln will be adopting the new technology ahead of some other Ford vehicles. The Dearborn automaker has said 40% of its lineup will be electrified by the end of the decade.

Four new battery-electric vehicles will debut globally on a new rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive flexible bed architecture by 2030 based around its anchor products. The company currently makes the Corsair, Nautilus, Aviator and Navigator SUVs. The Aviator is available as a plug-in hybrid and the plug-in hybrid Corsair will be later this year.

The first fully electric vehicle, which brand leaders declined to specify, will come next year when Lincoln celebrates its 100th anniversary. Production of Cadillac's first EV, the Lyriq SUV that starts at $59,990, will begin in the first quarter of 2022. Lincoln's new architecture also will support derivatives.

"When you’re working around traditional engines, transmissions, fuel systems, the space left for people can be compromised," said John Jraiche, global director for luxury vehicles' enterprise product line management. "But the company’s new rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive flexible bed architecture allows us to reimagine the interior space and deliver the power of sanctuary in a new way for our clients."

A sketch of the interior space inspired by Lincoln's evolving "Quiet Flight" design as the brand moves toward electrification.

EVs represent roughly 2% of U.S. sales, but 19% of the luxury segment, Falotico said. Now that Ford has showed it has the technology with the electric Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning and e-Transit commercial van, it has the scale that will help to bring EVs to Lincoln, said Sam Abuelsamid, e-mobility analyst for market research firm Guidehouse Inc.

"They've showed what they can do with electrification in their mainstream brand, and they're really starting to accelerate it with Lincoln," Abuelsamid said. "If they had launched it with Lincoln, they would not have as much volume. With the scale, they can manage the cost of bringing Lincoln over to it."

Nearly silent EVs will add a new meaning to Lincoln's "Quiet Flight" design that seeks to create a place where people can live, relax and work. Lincoln is exploring a "Rejuvenation" mode for car owners to create their own sensory environment through various screen display, lighting, climate, seat, massage, audio — and even scent settings.

A sketch of panormaic roofing inspired by Lincoln's evolving "Quiet Flight" design as the brand moves toward electrification.

Augmenting the physical structure is connected services. Lincoln Intelligence System, a cloud-based system for electrical, power distribution and computing systems, will allow for continued updates over the life of the vehicle.

That will start this summer on the 2021 Nautilus. Over-the-air software updates through the Lincoln Enhance platform for Sync 4-enabled vehicles will provide SecuriAlert, which will alert owners' phones when their vehicle is unlocked or accessed, and update navigation, Apple CarPlay and the digital owner's manual. The hands-free Alexa digital assistant will come in an update this fall.

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus SUV will receive an over-the-air update for the hands-free Alexa digital assistant in the fall.

Lincoln Intelligence System also will support Lincoln ActiveGlide hands-free highway driving technology. It uses cameras, radar and driving monitoring technology to allow a driver to operate hands-free on prequalified "Blue Zone" sections of the highway.

The brand emphasized digital updates on the retail and servicing side, too. Later this year, it will roll out a fully integrated digital sales platform now that one-third of Lincoln's U.S. sales are completed online. Buyers will be able to seek help from participating dealers through any moment of the process.

Lincoln is expanding its brand-exclusive dealerships in the 130 largest luxury markets. It also is adding smaller boutique locations through retail partners. Its first boutique was in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The brand remains committed to its dealer partners, said Michael Sprague, Lincoln's director in North America. It is expanding its brand-exclusive "Vitrine" dealerships and introducing smaller boutique locations that cater to retail environments with existing dealers. There are currently 28 Vitrine locations in the country with another 50 being added. They showcase Lincoln vehicles, provide digital resources for customers to purchase a vehicle, and offer another location where customers can drop off their vehicle for service.

"This is what luxury clients expect," Sprague said. "Brand-exclusive facilities drive our growth. In the top 30 luxury markets, more than 75% of our volume comes from brand-exclusive locations."

Lincoln is expanding its brand-exclusive dealerships in the 130 largest luxury markets. It also is adding smaller boutique locations through retail partners. Its first boutique was in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The brand's Lincoln Way app also will provide a unique charging experience to Lincoln EV customers through the Electrify America charging network with more detail to come later.

The brand additionally is testing a mobile fuel and vehicle spa subscription-based service in Houston. It allows the customer to request their vehicle get fueled up, a car wash or vehicle detailing, and Lincoln contracts with third parties to come to their office or home to provide that service, said Larry Farrar, service operations director for the Lincoln West Point dealership in Houston.

The dealership becomes involved if there are additional maintenance concerns or questions, Farrar said. Several hundred invitations were sent to the dealership's customers, and 25 to 30 responded positively, he said.

"We are in the very early stages," Farrar said. "What we've heard is that it has been a pretty good experience."

Such subscription services Ford has trumpeted as being a revenue source even after a vehicle is sold.

"It's the Wild est in terms of understanding what customers are willing to pay for," said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst for the Americas at IHS Markit Ltd. "Even if half of the vehicles are spending $20 a month, that's a significant amount of revenue opportunity."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble