Toyota unveils the Setsuna: A wooden electric car

But does it float?

Wooden cars may seem like a weirdly anachronistic idea nowadays, bringing to mind the horseless carriages of old, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or worse. Sure, the old wood sided cars were all the rage for a select group of people during the middle part of the last century, and some diehards are even fans of them today, despite the fact that Woodys are as ugly as sin.

But now Toyota is banking on a comeback of sorts for wood-based vehicles, except they are going far beyond a simple panel or veneer: They are releasing an almost entirely wooden vehicle called the Setsuna. Not only that, but it will be made without the use of screws or nails in the assembly of the body for a smoother, sleeker look. Instead it will be held together using the Japanese craft of Okuri Ari, which uses joints and dovetails rather than fasteners. It will also run on electricity instead of fossil fuels.

Setsuna translates roughly to “moment” in English, and it is meant to convey a sense of time with the vehicle. They are built to last some 100 years so that they may be passed down within the family, ostensibly gaining value over time for their durability as well as their uniqueness. In fact, they come equipped with a 100 year meter that begins ticking once they are complete.

Full specifications are not yet available for the Setsuna, as it is still merely a concept car. What is known is that it is a relatively small vehicle — standing a mere 38 inches tall. It is going to be 118 inches long and 58 inches wide. The wood used include types of birch and cedar, though others may be used as well in the final product.

But if you were hoping to purchase a Setsuna, you’re in for a disappointment. Since this is only a concept car it will likely only be used to explore the possibilities of making a wooden electric car. Even it it was to be released, it would probably only see the light of day in Japan.

Toyota is expected to unveil the Setsuna at the upcoming Milan Design Week.

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