The Peapod electric vehicle is, “awkward-looking, strange and offbeat,” says Peter Arnell, CEO of the Arnell Group–he ought to know, he designed the plug-in car. “It creates the right amount of disruption for people to pay attention to it in this marketplace.” Arnell, a famed brand architect, and mastermind behind the disastrous Tropicana packaging redesign, spoke about his newest product yesterday at the Greener by Design conference.
The Chrysler Peapod is definitively a neighborhood electric vehicle, with a maximum speed of 25 mph, a 30-mile range, and the ability to go from 0 to 20 mph in 5.9 seconds. It won’t survive a crash with an SUV too well, though. When asked about the Peapod’s safety record, Arnell explained that the car doesn’t need to comply with U.S. crash test and safety regulations since it doesn’t go above 25 mph. “Message and brand is most important now, “Arnell said.
Arnell’s Peapod won’t become a mainstream vehicle soon–it’s too limited in speed and durability–but the car, inspired by bullet trains, sea turtles, and Buzz Aldrin’s space helmet, is attracting attention. Arnell believes that the Peapod’s smiley-face grill is a welcome change from the aggressive-looking fronts on other cars. “Grills today look like Darth Vader, very aggressive and performance-oriented. We thought when this thing comes rolling down the road it might be nice if it’s just smiling at you,” he said. At the very least, Arnell’s Peapod will give some publicity to the nascent electric vehicle market.
The Peapod also proves that EVs can be designed and rolled out quickly if car companies are motivated enough. Arnell and his team went from design to physical product in only six months. While the design is simple, the car is slow, and most of the elements inside are stock items, the Peapod is a testament to the inefficiency of car companies that have been sitting on EVs for years.
As of Wednesday, 2,420 people are on the waiting list for the Peapod. The $12,500 vehicle will be released in the late fall.