Toyota is subtly teasing its public with a sneak peek of their latest car – the electric Toyota Setsuna, a limited edition of an automobile that’s nothing like what you’re used to. Talk about fashion statements; the Paris Fashion Week doesn’t have anything on this sweet ride. The reason we say that is the mere fact that being a fashionable electric car wasn’t enough for Toyota. Instead, they gave the Setsuna a wooden exterior that is hard to place even in science fiction or other pieces of pop culture.
The car can be found at the Salone del Mobile Milano. There, it awaits its public to gasp in awe at the sleek exterior, the supple wheels, the leather cushions and the small rear-view mirrors, all mounted atop an eccentric roadster.
The Toyota Setsuna is a strange one, however. Setting your gaze on it will make you amazed at how a car such as that can even function. Well, truth be told, it can’t exactly do any of that, frankly. It has not been approved for riding on the road, and neither is it for sale, not even for some unfeasible amount of money. Its purpose, however, is theoretical, let’s call it.
Toyota created the Setsuna – which, for the record, translates into English as ‘moment’ – with the sole purpose of research. Understanding what appeals to the public and where our future cars’ design could lead us is only the first step that the automaker envisioned. Just imagine a vehicle such as this, most likely not a carbon dioxide-omitting one either, casually driving down a suburb street. Carefully using the term ‘casually’, as the car cannot exceed 28 miles per hour
You’d think that the exterior is nothing more than just an exquisite paint job making the car look like it’s made of wood. It’s not just a paint job. As a matter of fact, the entire car is made of replaceable panels from various types of wood. The exterior uses a mixture of cedar, birch, elm, castor oil tree and cypress. Not to mention that the entire construction does not use nails to keep the panels in place; this is a technique that the Japanese engineers use ‘okuriari’.
According to Toyota, this car is the embodiment of the very idea that they had in mind when design began for the Setsuna. That is the idea that over time, both the car and the people who travel by it end up caring for it and connecting to it emotionally, thus ‘acquiring a particular value to those involved’. That may not sound like something familiar to us, the westerners, but in Japan, this is one of the most fundamental pieces of Japanese philosophy.
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