As the world’s top-selling auto maker, Toyota has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to experimenting with different concepts and ideas, and the Toyota Setsuna concept car is no different. The brand showed off the concept at Milan Design Week in mid-April, which is constructed entirely of wood and designed to last several generations. However, as outlandish as it seems, the Setsuna is an ode to Toyota’s origins in Japanese culture.
First of all, the Setsuna is designed to have the appearance of a small two-seat roadster, but is built out of Japan-native species of cedar and birch wood using traditional Japanese carpentry techniques. Even if the concept doesn’t strike you as a very good vehicle, it’s still a remarkable work of craftmanship. Additionally, the Setsuna was envisioned by Toyota concept artists as a family heirloom; the wood may change appearance and warp over time depending on weather conditions and other environmental conditions, but the concept is intended to be passed down to subsequent generations and last up to 100 years.
Because wood changes over time, Toyota decided to incorporate that idea into the concept. The word Setsuna even means “moment,” reflecting that the Setsuna will, over the course of generations, come to represent the memories and experiences of a particular family.
Toyota’s press release even elaborated on this idea, stating, “With the Setsuna concept, 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.”
While the Toyota Setsuna concept marks the first time a vehicle has been made out of wood, it’s far from the first heirloom car. There are plenty of vehicles that have been passed down from parent to child in the modern US, with the deeply-ingrained culture surrounding muscle cars and at-home garage modifications. The Setsuna debuted in Milan on April 12th.