If you think wood trim in cars is a relic of the ’70s that’s not likely to come back any time soon, a few luxury automakers would like to correct that notion. BMW, Lexus and Fisker Automotive are among the car brands bringing wood back in a big way – and we’re not talking strips of faux wood grain applied to the sides of station wagons. Sustainable wood is showing up in the form of decorative interior accents in hybrid and electric vehicles.
Fisker Automotive’s Karma, a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan, features wood trim sourced from fallen, sunken and rescued wood, ensuring that no live growth is ever used. Fallen wood comes from fallen trees in the western United States, while sunken wood has been raised from the bottom of Lake Michigan where it has been submerged for over 300 years. Rescued wood is recovered from trees damaged by wildfires in California.
Toyota chose bamboo trim for the Lexus GS, applying it to the steering wheel as well as the doors, dash and console. Says the company of this unusual choice, “Bamboo, as many Lexus fans have noticed, is gaining more and more traction in Lexus components, largely because the engineering teams keep finding ways to use this sustainable material to help improve the Lexus experience. Bamboo is dense and stable. It’s also highly sustainable: some varieties can grow by 100 centimeters a day. Lexus-grade bamboo takes between three and four years to mature, still more than 10 times quicker than the 40 to 50 years taken by conventional woods.”
BMW integrated a panel of eucalyptus wood into its i3 plug-in electric car, sourced from certified sustainably managed European forests. And for the Ram Laramie Longhorn pickup truck, Chrysler chose European walnut from trees that were once used as fence posts. The wood still bears markings from barbed wire in a nod to the pickup’s rugged utility.
Images via: Fisker Automotive, Lexus Enthusiast