Toyota presented an unusual study car as part of Fuorisalone, away from the main trade show in the vibrant Tortona design district. The Setsuna concept is made of wood, and at first glance it could easily be mistaken for a toy car. Yet this is a fully functioning roadster replete with an engine conceptualized to explore our relationship with our cars, our memories, history and the physical ageing process.
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.”