With the Lincoln Zephyr concept, the premium brand previewed a production model that is slated to debut later this year only for China. It was unveiled during the Auto Shanghai 2021 as a beautiful show car that takes a look at the not-so-distant future of the automaker.

With its latest project in cooperation with the Art Center College of Design in Southern California, however, Lincoln wants to imagine how its vehicles could look like in 2040 and beyond. But that’s not the full story.

Lincoln global design director Kemal Curic tasked four teams from the Art Center, which has a solid relationship with the manufacturer, to envision not only the cars the brand will produce 20 years from now but also the world in which those vehicles would live and the lives of the people who would drive them. It was much more than just drawing four vehicles as the work also involved the development of a short film.

Gallery: Lincoln design concepts for 2040

“Art Center is known for great vehicle design, and it’s in the heart of Hollywood,” Jordan Meadows who has roles at both Lincoln and Art Center explains. “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.”

The four concepts had to meet Lincoln’s Quiet Flight promise to create a “beautiful gliding human sanctuary” but also had to stay true to the company’s broader vision called CASE - an acronym for connected, autonomous, shared, and electric. Each team had to draw a different type of vehicle - a two-passenger, a four-passenger, a high-riding four-passenger, and a six-passenger vehicle. The results were impressive and you can check them out in the gallery above.

Lincoln points out that, in more traditional times, the four concepts would have been presented to executives from Ford and Lincoln but the coronavirus-related restrictions forced the teams to meet with instructors and execs online. Even CEO Jim Farley joined the virtual conversation, as well as other execs such as Joy Falotico, Hau Thai-Tang, Moray Callum, Michael Sprague, and others.