Meet The Setsuna, Toyota’s New Wooden Car

Next month, Toyota will make a fittingly stylish first appearance at Milan Design Week 1 by debuting an attractive new concept car made primarily of wood. Interesting right?

The car’s name Setsuna, meaning “moment” in Japanese and Toyota says it chose the name to reflect that people experience precious, fleeting moments together with their cars. Toyota believes that, over time, these collective moments make their cars irreplaceable to their owners.

To embody this concept, Toyota picked a variety of distinctive types of wood for different parts of the car, including the exterior panels 2,frame, floor, and seats. Wood provides uniquely appealing characteristics that are not offered in conventional cars: it can last for many generations if properly taken care of and it also changes in coloration and texture in response to its environment (particularly temperature and humidity) and conditions of use, taking on a unique character and depth.

The Setsuna concept car (Picture Toyota)
The Setsuna concept car (Image Source: Toyota)

“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 okuriari 3 which does not use any nails or screws. The completed
body line of the Setsuna expresses a beautiful curve reminiscent of a boat. We would also like the viewer to imagine how the Setsuna will gradually develop a complex and unique character over the years. The car includes a 100-year meter that will keep time over generations, and seats that combine functional beauty with the gentle hue of the wood.” Kenji Tsuji, the Toyota engineer overseeing development of the Setsuna, said.

This is quite an interesting concept and it shows how cars undergo a gradual transformation over the years.

The car is not for sale, however. According to Toyota’s Tokyo-based spokesperson Leela McMullen, who spoke to Forbes the Japanese carmaker plans “to collect feedback from a wide range of people—including experts such as cutting-edge designers and creators, as well as the general public—and maybe even use the results in developing future vehicles.”


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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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