Wooden Toyota Setsuna EV – It’s Not a Prank, Bro
Electric cars come in all shapes and sizes, but only one comes with a wooden body. Toyota’s Setsuna EV concept car is set to debut at the Milan Design Week in April and it’s far from your average electric vehicle (if there is such a thing). Boasting a resemblance to an Italian speedboat, it makes use of a traditional Japanese construction technique that’s seemingly archaic, but this concept is about more than just a unique design and engineering prowess.
The Japanese word “Setsuna” translates to “moment” in English. That’s no coincidence. Toyota designers built this car to last for generations, effectively creating memories, or moments, within a family.
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“With the Setsuna concept, 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,” said Toyota in a statement.
The designers chose to use a traditional Japanese construction technique called okuriari to assemble the vehicle. The technique foregoes the use of nails and screws to join pieces of wood. Instead, the shape of the wood itself holds the car together.
The Toyota Setsuna’s frame is made of Japanese birch, while Japanese cedar makes up the exterior panels. The electric car’s floor is Japanese zelkova elm and the seats are made from castor oil tree wood. The instrument panel holds an age meter that runs up to 100 years and is made from a soothing cyprus.
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As if being made entirely out of wood without any screws or nails wasn’t unique enough, the wood will change over time in both color and texture as it matures. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the creators of the Toyota Camatte designed the Setsuna.
Keep in mind that with a range of just 16 miles and a top speed of 28 mph, it’s still just a concept. There’s no guarantee the Toyota Setsuna will make it to the production line, but it isn’t impossible—the 1939 Lagonda Rapide Tulipwood Tourer and 1950 to 1969 Fuldamobil both made it to public roadways.
Only time will tell if the Toyota Setsuna will find its “moment” in automotive history.
Joseph Pudlewski is somewhat of a writer and editor living in the village of Anna, Ohio. A graduate of Wright State University, he holds a B.A. in English and enjoys reading anything by Jules Verne. A third generation American, he chose to forego joining the Air Force, unlike his father and grandfather before him. He would much rather keep his feet on the ground, hence his interest in the automotive industry, although he has no fear of flying. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys playing video games and spending time with family.