Peapod Mobility, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chrysler, will roll out the revolutionary Peapod on Earth Day, which is Wednesday. The website is just a tease for the unveiling right now, but we've seen pictures already. The car itself won't really be available until Labor Day. The Peapod neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) plugs into a regular 110 outlet, can travel up to 30 miles on a charge, and tops out at 25 miles per hour (by law, due to its classification). A friend called it a "shiny, expensive golf cart", to which I replied that it will go anywhere I need to go, albeit somewhat under the speed limit. And maybe if people saw this car smiling at them, they won't mind how slow it is. Yeah, right.
The developers of the Peapod asked themselves. "How many cool, geeky, and/or green features can we cram into this model?" Since cool outsells green, the Peapod has hitched its fortunes to the iPhone (they call it "integration"). The car has an iPhone and iPod dock inside. While docked, your iPhone serves as a computer screen for the car, like some higher-priced regular cars. Use it as a navigational aid, find driving tips, or watch movies if you have a death wish. Then there's this strange blurb:
The Peapod has a key just like you'd expect. But you also get the unexpected: simply dock you iPod for a fun, cutting edge way to start up. Exclusive software developed specifically for Peapod turns your iPod into a key. Both options are interchangeable and secure.
Fun maybe. Secure? I have my doubts. Some have pointed out that there is no such thing as secure software. Others have pointed out that it doesn't really matter because 1) no one would steal such an ugly car and 2) with a top speed of 25 mph, the police could probably catch any Peapod thief easily. If that ever happens, the video would be a guaranteed hit on YouTube. Honestly, I wonder whether anyone would spend enough time in a neighborhood electric car to justify an iPhone/iPod dock. Or whether they've misjudged the market for this car. Who knows? In the 1950s, people doubted whether the VW Beetle would ever catch on. The Peapod seats four and will retail for around $12,000. See the Peapod on video at Engadget.