Most hybrid, alternative fuel and greener cars strive to provide the same performance and driving experience as gas guzzlers. But that's not the purpose of the new all-electric Peapod car.
The Peapod, a creation of renowned brand designer Peter Arnell, has been developed in line with typical driving conditions and city planning trends that are heading more and more towards slower, smaller spaces. It's also been created with an eye towards efficiency and the environment, boasting zero emissions, nearly-zero maintenance and a long life.
The car falls into the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle classification, meaning it only goes up to 25 miles per hour. City Electric Vehicles are also all-electric, but go above 25 mph.
Available for order on Earth Day, the Peapod is a product of Peapod Mobility, a company spun off from Chrysler. Arnell is both head of Peapod Mobility and chief innovation officer for Chrysler.
"When I first started working with them, I had a review of all the different projects...and there was a lot of activity going on in the electric vehicle space, and I thought that was a very appropriate place for someone who was going to be leading innovation to drive and participate in," he said.
The Peapod is a four-seater, and it's features are a range of pluses and minuses, compared to most vehicles: a maximum speed of 25 mph (so that means it can't go on highways), a range of 30-35 miles on a single charge, no air conditioning, no air bags, practically no need for maintenance since it's mainly an electric motor and batteries, a lifespan of 8-10 years and a sticker price of $12,500.
"If you look at a street sign in New York City today, it says the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. There is no need to have more, when more would be breaking the law," Arnell said. "So it is very appropriate for the conditions and behaviors and laws that are being applied every year."
The initial run of Peapods will feature six colors, and about 25,000 units will be made, though that number could go up to 40,000 depending on demand. Peapods will start shipping in September, but consumers can start ordering them on April 22 online only.
"We have a huge amount of following already," Arnell said, "And I think there is a real opportunity to really move a lot of vehicles in the marketplace."
Arnell likens the creation of the Peapod to the shift in the world of music from CDs, with their packaging and now-clunky CD players, to mp3 players and iPods. "We're following a pretty good trend in making things more efficient," he said.
The Peapod even comes with iPod and iPhone integration aimed at making the devices not only entertainment, but functional, with custom-made applications, including one that tracks how much driving you do and shows what your impact is compared to if you drove a gas-consuming vehicle.