Q&A: Arnell on the Peapod | Adweek Q&A: Arnell on the Peapod | Adweek

Q&A: Arnell on the Peapod


While moms through the ages have begged their kids “Eat your peas!,” “Drive your Peapod” won’t be a refrain coming from anyone’s lips if branding guru Peter Arnell has any say in the matter. The founder and CEO of Arnell Group, New York, who’s also chief innovation officer for Chrysler, designed and engineered the colorful and user-friendly electric vehicle with the space age, pod-shaped design. In addition to being gas and emissions free, the Peapod boasts iPod integration, has lightweight mesh seating and is made out of recyclable materials.

Originally called the GEM Peapod and in the planning stages for 10 years, Chrysler recently spun Peapod Mobility off as its own company -- the smiling NEV cars go on sale this spring.
Becky Ebenkamp spoke to Peter Arnell about getting into the green game and what it was like to return to his architectural and design roots.

Brandweek: What’s the relationship between Peapod and Chrysler? Originally “the Chrysler GEM Peapod” was hyped as the electric car’s name. Now at Peapodmobility.com there’s no Chrysler reference.
Peter Arnell: Peapod Mobility is a wholly owned company of Chrysler that’s been spun off as an independent company. The senior engineering team came out of two decades working at Chrysler, so the relationship was borne out of this incredible experience. I have two roles now: I’m the chief innovation officer at Chrysler. I’m also the lead director of Peapod Mobility, which is dedicated to innovation in transportation that is green.

BW: Can you school me on the different types of electric vehicles and what’s out there?
PA: The government classifies two types of electric vehicles at the moment. One is called the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle [the NEV] and the other is the CEV [City Electric Vehicle]. It’s classified by virtue of the speed of the vehicle: NEVs go up to 25 miles an hour and CEVs go over 25 like a normal car. It’s not a hybrid -- these are both pure electric vehicles. The Peapod program will have a series of NEVs initially and eventually CEVs.

BW: So a CEV you can drive on the freeway?
PA: That’s right. It goes the same speeds as a regular car, meets all the same government requirements regarding pedestrian crashes . . . it’s got airbags, etc.

BW: What’s the point of owning an NEV then, a car that isn’t freeway accessible?
PA: The idea is it’s a lightweight vehicle with a top speed of 25 mph. Ninety percent core city driving previously was made by conventional cars or SUVs, and the idea is to replace that activity with low-speed vehicles. The Peapod [NEV’s] travel range is 30 miles and it has a strong payload, over 900 pounds. It has rack and pinion steering, front-wheel drive, runs off 72-volt batteries, has an on board charger and gives off zero emissions. And at $12,500, it makes for a great second car.

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