In conjunction with the upcoming Milano Design Week, Toyota went away with the norm by unveiling a unique two-seat roadster named “Setsuna”. The distinctive feature about the Setsuna is that it’s made of wood – all of it, except the tyres of course.
Before environmentalists could jump in to save the trees, mind you, this is just a concept from Toyota that makes use of various trees to construct this car. For instance, Japanese Cedar is best known for its flexibility, so that goes to the making of the Setsuna’s exterior. The chassis requires the toughest kind of wood, and Birch wood is commissioned.
Inside, Japanese zelkova was used for the flooring while the seats were crafted from smooth castor aralia. For items such as wheel caps, steering wheel, and seat frames, aluminium is used, but very sparingly.
No nails, yes, no nails have been used to join the body parts. The body is made out of 86 handmade panels and are connected using a unique Japanese technique called “okuriari”. Meanwhile, a standard electric motor with six batteries is used to move the car because you know, an internal combustion engine made entirely out of wood would somehow smell like bonfire…
Toyota said the word “Setsuna” stands for “moment” in the Japanese language. Or as its lead designer Kenji Tsuji puts it, “envisaging a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value.”
Family values matter here. “Continuous development is possible in the form of bonds between the car and the family, like the growth rings of a tree”, added Tsuji.
Also, look closely at the dials on the dashboard. They aren’t actual your usual speedo and tachometer, but rather a clock displaying the hours, days and years – all up to 100 years. This serves as a reminder for us to value time and memories instead of the distance travelled.
While the car’s top speed of 45km/h won’t set this on fire (also not a good idea with this concept), think of it this way. Wood is lightweight, which is good for speed, as proven by the World War 2 bomber De Havilland Mosquito. If Setsuna is packed with a more powerful electric motor and perhaps some clever use of thermal insulation, it could potentially become a fun and fast roadster, which sadly is not what Toyota is thinking now at this point of time.