Toyota has built a concept car out of wood

Cars these days are constructed out of all kinds of flashy and excitingly named materials. But as nice as carbon fibre reinforced plastic and carbotanium is, Toyota has decided to kick it old school for the upcoming Milano Design Week.

For the fashion event, it’s decided to make a two-seat roadster called Setsuna out of trees. Lots and lots of different trees. 

Kenji Tsuji, the Toyota engineer overseeing development of the concept, selected different types of wood for specific parts of the car based on their properties.

The car is clad in Japanese cedar, as it’s the best material for the exterior due to the refinement of its grain and flexibility. For rigidity, the chassis is made from birch. While Japanese zelkova appears in the floor (because of its strength and durability), smooth castor aralia is used for the seats while aluminium accents details like the wheel caps, steering wheel and seat frames. 

The body itself is made out of 86 handmade panels and bonded using the traditional Japanese joinery technique “okuriari” – which means there’s no need for any nails or screws.

The different woods have also been treated so its colouration and appearance changes over time. As the car ages, expands in the wet winters, and fights an endless battle against dry rot, Toyota believes this will give add character to the car that can be passed from generation to generation.

Powered by an unspecified electric motor, the Setsuna is a wonderful mix of old and new. But, is it just us that thinks if it had its exposed wheels ripped off it’d make a perfect boat?

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