replaceable. The company explained at the time that the car – fully functional but not legal for road use – featured some of the fi nest examples of Japanese joinery techniques. While cedar was chosen for the exterior panels because of its fl exibility and distinctive grain, a more rigid Japanese birch was used for the frame. These required techniques such as okuriari, a type of dovetail joint, and kusabi, a mortise and tenon joint. The joints feature split tenons that lock into their corresponding through-tenons, securing the vehicle’s structure. The seats were a blend of the ornamental Japanese Zelkova and smooth-textured Castor Aralia. “Okuriari allows the panels to be fi tted without using nails, so they can be easily removed,” the company said in a statement. “It makes for stronger joints and allows minor changes to be made to the mortise and dovetail joints if they become worn over time.”

HOW WOOD ADDS A LITTLE LOVE It went on: “Wood was chosen as the primary material to express the idea that love grows as time passes. Wood changes in colour and feel in direct response to the love and care shown to it. “As Setsuna is passed from generation to generation, the physical changes in its wooden bodywork refl ect the bond it has built with its owners and their shared experiences.” Kenji Tsuji, the engineer who led the Setsuna project, said that when the car was created “we envisaged a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value”. In its development of a car that makes such great use of wood, the Toyota team consulted many experts, including carpenters who specialist in building shrines and temples, and shipwrights. Tsuji added: “Sumitomo Forestry, a company that fully understands our concept, shared their knowledge of wood construction with us, and together we engaged in various types of joint development from the early

FACT Toyota consulted a wide range of

experts, including carpenters who were skilled in building shrines and temples

stages, including wood selection and proposals for new processing techniques and assembly methods.” “While we used wood as the main material, we also poured lots of time and passion into the car itself with our colleagues, creating a prototype and evaluating it so that the car would off er basic performance in the form of driving feel and comfort. By displaying Setsuna, which was created with these hopes in mind, and receiving a wide range of opinions, we believe that we can further improve this concept.”

Another automotive visionary had

a far more functional approach. Industrial designer Joe Harmon, for example, wanted to show wood as a viable, roadworthy material. His Splinter project was fi ve years

in the making before his eff orts were rolled out at the Essen Motor Show in Germany. He began while a graduate student at North Carolina State University, inspired by the wooden World War II de Havilland Mosquito aircraft - noted as the fastest piston-driven plane of its era. He explained the advantages by noting that wood has a better strength-to-weight ratio than traditional steel and aluminum. “Wood is now our only naturally

renewable building material — it takes just an extraordinarily small amount of energy to produce and is totally biodegradable,” he told journalists at the time. Adrien Communier wrote in Cent magazine: “In a time where almost everything is made out of carbon fi bre, Toyota made the choice to



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