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Toyota Setsuna Concept Car

Just the other day I was thinking someone should really make a car using the traditional Japanese art of wood joinery. Toyota seems to have had the same idea!

Debuting at the Milan Design week this year this unbelievable feat of woodworking and engineering is set to impress. According to Toyota it was conceived to embody the affection owners grow to feel about their cars and how cars continue to change and offer real value over time.

Surely it can't work though? The Setsuna is able to drive, turn and stop which are all the basics a car really needs. The bodywork is a jigsaw of 86 hand-crafted panels made from specially selected wood varieties that responds to the amount of time its exposed to the environment, meaning it will be a totally different car at various points throughout its life, almost like a natural paint job! Its amazingly economical too (once you've overcome the use of wood) as you only need to replace separate panels, rather than entire sections.

The woods used are Japanese cedar, reknowned for its amazing grain and flexibility for the bodywork, Japanese birch for the chasis due to its inherent rigidity. For the floor they used Japanese zelkova as its very durable and strong. For other parts such as the seats they have used castor aralia, a very smooth and workable wood.

I wonder how many screws and nails were used I hear you say to yourself…none! The incredibly ingenious techniques such as 'okuriari' and 'kusubi' mean that the exterior panels can be added or removed without the need for nails! 

A few words from Toyota Engineer Kenji Tsuji:

when we created the setsuna, we envisaged a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value…continuous development is possible in the form of bonds between the car and the family, like the growth rings of a tree. to proceed with the development of a car utilizing the appeal of wood, we directly spoke with experts with wide-ranging knowledge, including carpenters specializing in temple and shrine construction and ship’s carpenters.


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