Driving the Peapod

It's no secret that the American automotive industry is in dire straights. Can good design do what billions of dollars in government money couldn't? Chrysler's "Chief Innovation Officer" Peter Arnell, the notorious designer most recently thrust into the spotlight for the recall of his Tropicana design, thinks so. His answer to our modern transportation needs? Peapod Mobility, an innovative new car line designed towards urban life and the day-to-day.

2009 chrysler gem peapod front angle picture

Priced at $12,500, the Peapod (Arnell apparently saw fit to name the car after himself—Peter Eric Arnell) is a vehicle intended exclusively for in-town driving, whether it be in downtown Manhattan or Suburban Ohio. The vehicle has been designed as a daily use, errand-running chariot with a range of up to 30 miles on a single charge. Between the Peapod and the new Urban PUMA, automakers are taking steps towards dramatic new solutions with vehicles that don't fit the typical mold of the passenger car. But have these vehicles moved entirely beyond the definition of a "car"? Arnell thinks so, and claims to have invented a new type of vehicle - the "mobi." In a Newsweek article, he refers to this particular "mobi" as "a mix of Darth Vader, a bullet train, and a Citroën deux chevaux." And maybe we should add "treehugger" to the mix. The environmentally-friendly Peapod is a 100% electric, battery-powered vehicle built from 95% recycled and recyclable materials.

2009 chrysler gem peapod cockpit interior picture

In a move that seems to be piggybacking onto the iPhone's halo affect, the Peapod uses the increasingly ubiquitous handheld as an alternative to the car key. Plug in your iPod or iPhone into the vehicle's dashboard and off you go at a top speed of 25 mph. The idea behind the integration of what is essentially a pocket-sized computer, is to eventually use the devices to record the performative aspects of the vehicle in terms of speed, use, and efficiency. In another display of savvy Apple-esque marketing, Chrysler and Arnell hope to market the Peapod as a brand with other compatible products under its banner: pens, clothes, suitcases, picnic baskets, etc. It's not hard to imagine third-party companies getting involved to design additional Peapod "apps."

2009 chrysler gem peapod rear angle picture

The Peapod will be produced under GM-Chryslers "GEM" subdivision, who are in the process of rebranding themselves from Global Electric Motorcars to Green Eco Mobility. And in another nod towards its sustainable ethos, the Peapod will make its official debut later this month on Earth Day.

[images via Linkah.com]

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