A Chat with Peapod Designer Peter Arnell

peapod peter arnell interview photo

Via Peapod
The 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 Star
Wars, space helmets and turtles were some of the iconic images that
inspired the design.

TH: Why the smiley face?

PA: The smile reflects its user-friendly mood and environmentally friendly
nature 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, how
do you plan to get younger people interested?

PA: You design your marketing attitude into the design; instead of utilizing
advertising or communications to send the message, you build it into the
product. The product itself speaks, it has a language, it talks. I came
up 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 newly
designed center console that offers iPod integration, as well as
hands-free operation of the  iPhone. We're working on special apps for
the Peapod.

TH: Is there going to be an application that keeps track of your Peapod's
carbon 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 on
wheels. I thought of the Peapod as an appliance more than a car because
you plug this in.

TH: The specifics of the engine (I should have said electric motor) have been somewhat guarded. Are you
willing to reveal any of these specifics to Treehugger?

PA: No engine in this one, just a clean 10 horsepower electric DC motor
fed 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" - the
Utilitypod. The Twinpod will be available later this year while the Utilitypod will
arrive in April 2010.

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