A Chat with Peapod Designer Peter Arnell
Via PeapodThe Peapod, a neighborhood electrical vehicle, will be available to consumers on Earth Day. It costs $12,500. It goes 25mph, has a travel range of thirty miles and is not allowed on highways. These are fairly typical statistics for an NEV. But why then did Fast Company name the Peapod as the number two way to jump start the auto business? It has a lot to do with the design and the marketing. Most NEVs are used for commercial purposes or nestled in retirement and gated communities. They’ve traditionally been marketed to consumers who have removed themselves from the rest of the world and spend their days playing golf and sipping tea under umbrellas, but the Peapod is actually marketed to the younger crowd, to those of us just out of college who are still trying to make a buck.
How will Peapod Pull off This Marketing Feat?By catching the wave of the iPhone and iPod. The Peapod comes standard with full iPod and iPhone integration. It also has a futuristic design meant to appeal to the hipper, younger crowd like the VW Beetle did forty years ago. The front of the car even looks like the era's "Have a Nice Day" smiley face.
A Chat with Peter Arnell, Peapod Designer
TH: What inspired the design?
PA: Many things...Japanese bullet trains, storm troopers from the film StarWars, space helmets and turtles were some of the iconic images thatinspired the design.
TH: Why the smiley face?
PA: The smile reflects its user-friendly mood and environmentally friendlynature and gives it an appealing nature with a lot of talk value.
TH: I've read that this vehicle will be marketed to the younger set, howdo you plan to get younger people interested?
PA: You design your marketing attitude into the design; instead of utilizingadvertising or communications to send the message, you build it into theproduct. The product itself speaks, it has a language, it talks. I cameup with a youthful new moniker for the NEV Classification: "Mobi."
TH: Tell me about the iPod integration.
PA: The user-friendly mood of the vehicle is enhanced with the newlydesigned center console that offers iPod integration, as well ashands-free operation of the iPhone. We're working on special apps forthe Peapod.
TH: Is there going to be an application that keeps track of your Peapod'scarbon footprint?
PA: We're working on an app for your iPhone to do this.
TH: You've referred to the Peapod as an appliance. Can you explain that?
PA: I want it to be thought of as a personal transport pod, an iPod onwheels. I thought of the Peapod as an appliance more than a car becauseyou plug this in.
TH: The specifics of the engine (I should have said electric motor) have been somewhat guarded. Are youwilling to reveal any of these specifics to Treehugger?
PA: No engine in this one, just a clean 10 horsepower electric DC motorfed by 100% recyclable batteries.
TH: What else do you have planned for the "mobis" series?
PA: A smaller, two-door version called the Twinpod, and a "pick up" - theUtilitypod. The Twinpod will be available later this year while the Utilitypod willarrive in April 2010.