With the exception of some vintage station wagons, once you get beyond homemade go-carts and the Pinewood Derby, wood ceases to be a popular material for automobile construction. Toyota, however, seems to be questioning that situation with its Setsuna EV concept, a boatlike machine that’s made largely of dead trees.
Wood is used for the exterior panels (cedar), the frame (birch), as well as the floor and seats. The two-seat electric roadster was created for Milan Design Week, which takes place next month. Explaining the choice of materials, Toyota characterizes wood as “durable yet prone to change over time.” The name means “moment” in Japanese, the idea being that people experience “precious, fleeting moments together with their cars.”
“With the Setsuna concept,” the company continues, “Toyota is expressing the notion that, as a family accrues time and experiences together with their car, lovingly caring for it and passing it on to the next generation, that car will acquire a new type of value that only the members of that family can appreciate.” This stands in contrast to ordinary metal cars, which are to be traded in every three years to ensure corporate profitability.