Toyota Setsuna Concept: A wooden time machine on wheels
Debuting in April at Milan Design Week, the Toyota Setsuna concept is a wooden masterpiece that combines this timeless material with a 100-year chronograph. Made to embody the family affection that is often imbued in our cars, the Setsuna is meant to be passed along as an heirloom.
The Setsuna is a concept vehicle designed and built by Kenji Tsuji and his team of Toyota engineers. The engineers say that they chose wood as their medium for the car's build because wood changes and gains character over time as it's cared for. The idea being that the Setsuna would be passed on from generation to generation and the wood it's made from would change in hue and texture with that passing time.
The team used specific woods for various parts of the working car, including nearly all of the structure. Metal comprises only a very small part of the Setsuna's overall design. The exterior is made of Japanese cedar for long-life and its particular hue. Japanese birch makes up the framing and some chassis components because of its rigid nature. Japanese zelkova, known for its durability, was used for the flooring while castor aralia was used for the seating.
The exterior has two grain patterns that can be swapped out when desired. A straight grain gives a flowing, simple look whereas a cross grain has a more natural, characteristic appeal. To join the woods, traditional Japanese woodworking was called upon, allowing most of the joints to be secured without nails or screws. Okuriari and Kusabi techniques were used. Okuriari is a housed dovetail joint that can be easily slipped free without tools, but which holds its position when under pressure. Kusabi, a type of mortise and tenon joint, is used on framing and other structural components of the Setsuna.
To finish the woods, a wipe-lacquering finish was applied by hand to many of the car's parts, including mirror housings, body banding lines, and the steering wheel. This multi-layer lacquering technique sees its applique in stages, being wiped on, with the grain, repeatedly. A few aluminum finish pieces band the Setsuna to augment the look of the aluminum steering wheel frame and wheels.
Key to the concept are the Setsuna emblem, made to symbolize the "accumulation of moments." The radial emblem mirrors the radial clock/meter inside the car, which sits on the dashboard and ticks away the time over a 100 year span. Hands on the clock denote the minutes and hours while a rolling meter denotes years.