2016 Toyota Setsuna Concept
Toyota makes a car this is composed mainly of woodby Robert Moore, on
In a world where steel, aluminum, plastic, and carbon fiber are the dominate materials that make up the cars we drive, Toyota has done something different. Meet the Toyota Setsuna Concept – a car that is made almost entirely out of wood. Well, that might be a little exaggerated, the chassis, suspension, and drivetrain are still made out of some kind of metal, and the tires are still made of rubber, but the body, and most of the interior is made from a choice selection of wood. Interesting, huh?
Toyota claims the decision to use wood to make this concept is because it reflects the developing relationship between people and their cars, saying it “symbolizes how cars undergo gradual transformation.” For the concept, several different types of wood were used, and while something like this could never go into production, Toyota claims it could last over several family generations if it is properly taken care of.
Kenji Tsuki, the lead engineer of the Setsuna Concept, said, “We evaluated various ways to express the concept and selected different lumber materials for specific applications, such as Japanese cedar for the exterior panels and Japanese birch for the frame. We also paid particular attention to the sizes and arrangements of individual parts. For the assembly structure, we adopted a traditional Japanese joinery technique called okuriari3, which does not use any nails or screws.”
So, even though this isn’t necessarily a “serious” concept, it means something to Toyota. A 100-year meter has even been included with the car that keeps track of time as the years pass and the car ages – changing as the wood its built out of does. So with that said, let’s take a look at this rather interesting concept.
Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota Setsuna Concept.
2016 Toyota Setsuna Concept
As you can see from the image provided by Toyota, the car really is made primarily from wood. The exterior is mainly composed of Japanese Cedar, while the frame that holds everything together is constructed out of Japanese birch. A technique known as okuriari3 was used to join all of the pieces together, which means there are no nails or screws used to hold the wood pieces together.
The overall shape of the concept is quite interesting, as it takes the general form of a boat
The overall shape of the concept is quite interesting, as it takes the general form of a boat. If it weren’t for all of the metal in the chassis, this baby would probably float too, but Toyota didn’t elaborate on that specifically. Outside of the Chassis, the only metal parts to speak of are the ring that surrounds the exterior waistline, the light fixtures in the front, and the mounts for the windshield glass. The rims look like they may be made out of some kind of metal, but have been outlined in the same Japanese cedar that makes up the body. The dark accenting trim along the front fenders, and around the door is a really nice touch. It doesn’t surprise me that Toyota found a way to has some contrasting tones in there somewhere.
The concept officially debuts next month at the Milan Design Week 1, so Toyota has left a little mystery in the mix by not releasing any shots of the interior. It’s safe to assume that most of the cabin is made of wood, and we can see that the seats are made from planks of wood, and the steering wheel is made of wood, stained to match the trim accents of the exterior. There appears to be some leather wrapped around the headrest and the seats, probably more for comfort. Outside of that, we’ll have to wait until the concepts official debut to see what is really going on inside.
The Setsuna is capable of speeds up to 28 mph
Toyota didn’t release any information about the Setsuna’s drivetrain, but some sources are indicating that it is drivable over short distances. It apparently has six lead-acid batteries that power an electric motor and is capable of speeds up to 28 mph. Its range is said to be about 16 miles. Normally I would rag on a manufacturer for such a poor electric range, but this is just a concept, and it really isn’t meant to be driven. It’s really just a bonus that it can even drive at all.
Normally I shrug off a lot of concepts if they don’t have the potential to make it into production, but I think this concept is pretty cool. I’ve got to hand it to the engineers for their fine workmanship on the wood finish and assembly, plus the design itself is unique. To be honest, I’m surprised Toyota went so far as to make the car drivable, but why not? At least it is easier to move it around that way.
The meaning of the concept itself – the notion that the cars we drive change with us – is completely true, and in my case, my cars over the years have been an extension of my personality and have changed as I have. I tip my hat to Toyota for taking the time to make such a concept. It certainly stands out among a lot of the other concepts we’ve seen lately. I didn’t expect to see a wooden car anytime soon, but it’s always nice to be surprised.