Ford’s decision to collaborate with Rivian is part of the company’s “anything goes” EV strategy. Basically, Ford wants to introduce EVs at a rapid clip and will work with competitors to make that happen. The extent of their relationship hasn’t been fully disclosed. Lincoln further lifted the veil recently when they officially announced their intention to work with Rivian on an EV. It will be the brand’s first fully electric vehicle.
They also killed the MKZ. Lincoln’s sedans are essentially dead. As Semisonic would say, every new beginning comes some other beginning’s end.
Speculation about the extent of the Ford-Rivian partnership started pretty much immediately after Ford announced their $500 million contribution into the startup’s coffers. Initially, it was assumed that Ford would use Rivian’s skateboard platform on a Blue Oval product and possibly build that vehicle at one of their own plants. While it’s not clear where the Lincoln EV will be assembled, what we do know is that it won’t simply be a rebadged Rivian. According to Motor Trend, Lincoln is currently working on the “top hat” components like the body, cabin, and electronics. That suggests Rivian will provide the basic powertrain and suspension and let Lincoln customize everything else.
Given Lincoln’s recent debuts, those details make sense. The Navigator, Aviator, and Corsair share a cohesive design language and a similar interior aesthetic. More importantly, those traits earned critical acclaim from the automotive press. A wildly different looking Lincoln EV isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but in all likelihood it simply complement the brand’s modern lineup.
Lincoln did not divulge the configuration of their EV, but Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe stated it exists “in the SUV space” and looks a lot different than the R1S, which is the company’s three-row EV. Ford already has a luxury pickup in the form of the F-150 and that model is slated to get a proprietary EV powertrain within the next year or so. It’s probably not going to be a Navigator variant because that SUV will likely inherit the F-150’s EV powertrain at some point. But it could conceivably become a member of the Aviator family. The Aviator and R1S are within inches of each other in length, width, and wheelbase. And the base R1S will most likely be priced several thousand dollars above the $68,800 Aviator Grand Touring. Theoretically, it could slot above that trim as its own thing. With Chicago Assembly tasked with building the Explorer, Aviator, and Police Interceptor Utility, they probably wouldn’t be able to accommodate an Aviator EV. It also isn’t clear if the CD6 platform is capable of hosting a full EV powertrain.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett apparently wants the upcoming EV to have a 400 mile range too, which isn’t an absurd request because Rivian’s 180kWh battery is expected to enable a range slightly above that number. But it might raise the base price considerably.
With Lincoln focused top hat components, they’re most likely building an EV with a slightly different mission statement than its Rivian counterpart. They could focus on value rather than o-60 times and ornately designed cabins. But that’s just speculation. With the first Rivian models set to arrive later this year, the Lincoln can’t be too far behind.
And as Lincoln enters a new era, it leaves an old one behind. With the official demise of the MKZ, Lincoln’s letter-based naming scheme comes to an end. The mid-size sedan’s death will upset precisely no one even if it was a decent vehicle. As part of the Fusion based derivatives launched in 2005, the MKZ boasted commendable driving dynamics but could never fully separate itself from its less expensive and more attractive sibling. It never really boasted a unique selling point until it received the 3.0 liter twin turbo V6 as part of its 2017 refresh. Bizarrely, Lincoln offered it with front-wheel drive for a short period of time. But most of them will be able to send power to all four wheels.
With the Continental likely facing death next year, the MKZ leaves behind an unclear legacy. At least as a new vehicle. Pre-owned MKZ’s equipped with the 400 horsepower twin turbo V6 are frighteningly inexpensive. In that light, it’s not absurd to feel saddened by the Lincoln’s cancellation.