Real Wood Preferred in Eco Car Interiors

By Bill Esler | Posted: 07/08/2013 9:51PM


ANAHEIM, CA - Natural wood is making its way into auto interiors, as car makers increasingly source dashboards and door panels from reclaimed lumber and FSC certified mills. 

The Ram Laramie Longhorn pickup truck from Chrysler uses reclaimed European Walnut fence posts, with a lightly sanded open-grained surface lightly sanded lightly and still marked with the barbed wire 

"On our new 2013 Longhorn we’ve added real wood . . from a European source," says Ryan Nagode, chief interior designer for Chrysler's Ram and Fiat vehicles. "The trees are used as fence posts, so they wrap barbed wire fence around them. Over the years, that barbed wire gets engulfed into the wood. The wood then starts to swirl around and create this burling effect.

Each one of Bentley's Mulsanne models features 33 figured California walnut veneer panels on the interior. Each panel takes an eight hours to hand work, with this year's design adapted to accommodate iPads and iPods.

Fisker uses three types of reclaimed wood on its Karma electric sedans, describing them at its website:

"Rescued Wood: Certified Rescued Wood™ retrieved from the 2007 firestorm in Orange County, CA;  Sunken Wood: Certified Sunken Wood™ sourced from the bottom of Lake Michigan; and Fallen Wood: Certified Fallen Wood™ from California storms. (The company has suspended manufacture of the Karma as it sorts out financial issues.)

Toyota uses a fast-growing bamboo - technically a grass - in midsize Lexus hybrids. "It's a light, almost bleached wood," Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong told U.S.A Today, which also highlighted the trend in an article last week. 

BMW will soon introduce an i3 rechargable electric car with a eucalyptus wood panel across the top of the dashboard, culled from "certified sustainably managed European forests and treated using natural materials," BMW told the paper.

Rolls-Royce, a paradigm of fine woodworking in auto interiors, has introduced "Bespoke" versions of its legendary luxury cars, featuring wood marquetry, veneers and inlays in custom patterns. Its competitor Bentley features walnut burl from California.  




About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at or follow him on Google+.

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