New patent details airline-style tray table for rear seat occupants.
Anyone who has ever hired a car to shuttle them to the airport will know that there isn't a brand out there more popular with the livery market than Lincoln. The company helps move millions of people annually–be it with the thousands of Town Cars still soldiering on, the MKT which was developed exclusively for limo companies in mind, or now, the Continental which has found more favor with fleets than with average consumers.
So it's fitting that the latest advancement from the luxury minds over at Lincoln is an airline-style tray table for rear seat passengers that will fold out from the center console. The document, which was discovered by CarBuzz within the USPTO database, describes the invention as a "table that may be selectively stored in a portion of a vehicle console." It is envisioned as living within its own storage cavity on the side of the center console, while a slideable support shaft allows it to telescope out from its storage position and then rotate horizontally by 270 degrees into a useable position. The idea is remarkably similar to the fold-out tray tables often found in the first-class cabins of large airliners.
Another embodiment of the invention details the table being housed in a cavity which is hidden inside the console's top cover. In this case, the support shaft would simply slide outward from the cavity. Whichever direction Lincoln chooses, the patent claims there will be a protruding finger grip in the form of a hook or knob that will allow users to extend the tray from its storage position. In order to return the tray to its stowed position simply depress the locking mechanism and away it will fold. There have been reports that the next-generation Lincoln Continental could gain a set of suicide doors, it's possible this latest patent discovery goes hand in hand with the brand's new focus on pampering passengers.
High-end luxury vehicles will often feature trays or tables to be used by rear-riding passengers, but Lincoln says these "usual" configurations are too expensive as they require "the rear console to be engineered with enough packaging space to accommodate a table." Or worse yet, flip down trays mounted to front vehicle seatbacks which the company claims can lead to discomfort to the front vehicle passengers. Then again, the feature could have also been dreamed up for the Chinese market, where just about everyone and their mother has an affinity for being chauffeured.