Toyota’s wooden roadster concept explores emotional links to the automobile

The Setsuna‘s clean and proportioned appearance carries forward Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s new focus on emotional styling.

MILAN – Toyota used one of the world’s biggest design events here to showcase the Setsuna concept for a roadster made from wood.

Not planned for production, the Setsuna is built using different types of wood, most notably Japanese cedar for the exterior panels and Japanese birch for the frame. The wooden body and interior were built using a traditional Japanese joinery technique called okuriari that does not need nails or screws.

Toyota said the use of wood, a material that is durable but changes over time, reflects how a family car’s use changes as it is passed down through generations and acquires a new value that only the members of that family can appreciate.

The name Setsuna, which means moment in Japanese, was chosen to reflect that people experience precious, fleeting moments together with their cars. Toyota believes that, over time, these collective moments make their cars irreplaceable to their owners.

The Setsuna was unveiled during the Milan Design Week. Rather than turn to one of its many styling centers, Toyota entrusted the concept’s creation to Kenji Tsuji, a project manager in the product planning department at Toyota’s headquarters in Aichi, Japan.

“When you look at the future, you have to also look beyond the environment and the digitalization of automobiles and try to recapture an emotional connection between the customer and the product,” Tsuji said.

The Setsuna’s provocative, clean and proportioned appearance carries forward Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s new focus on emotional styling to rid the Japanese automaker of its reputation for boring designs.

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