Advertising's Anti-Midas Strikes Again! Chrysler Quietly Axed Peter Arnell's Electric Car Months Ago

Last Updated May 27, 2010 6:00 PM EDT

Chrysler quietly dropped adman Peter Arnell's Peapod electric vehicle during its bankruptcy, the company told BNET today, which is a good thing given how dangerous the thing was for anyone who wanted to drive one. It's yet another example of how things touched by Arnell just don't seem to work out. Last April, he was assuring us that the car would be launched in October. We haven't heard much since.

With the BP oil spill underlining the need for non-gas vehicles, I got to wondering what happened to the Peapod, a bubble-shaped golf cart that the Arnell Group chief designed and touted as the future of automobiles (he also made sure the car's name included his own initials -- P.E.A.). The launch was scheduled for 2010. Surely now would be the perfect time to roll one onto the market?

Alas, it's part of the bits of Chrysler that were abandoned when the company emerged from bankruptcy court in June, spokesperson Nick Cappa confirmed. The Peapod won't be happening.

That's a blessing if you're concerned about road safety. I noted in May that the car doesn't meet U.S. road safety standards. While searching for recent news on the Peapod, I found this delightful video of Arnell and California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, uploaded in December 2009, in which Arnell admits that the vehicle was unsafe at any speed. In the film, a reporter asks him (at the 5 minute mark) about the car's crash resilience. "If you're in an intersection and someone hits you at 40 miles an hour," the reporter says, "what happens to the people inside?" Arnell gives this chilling answer:
There's a lot of respect and a lot of different cues between drivers in this vehicle, like there are with motorcycles for example, or other vehicles that have less protection in an environment like that, so we're hoping behavior change and the spirit and respect for this category is understood by all drivers.
That's right: All that prevents you from being pulped on the highway by a Hummer is "behavior change," "spirit" and "respect."

So we can add Chrysler to the list of Arnell's recent implosions, along with the Tropicana redesign, his book deal with Harper Collins, and his Pepsi redesign document. Back in February, Arnell pitched the government of Thailand in hopes of landing its tourism account and rebranding the country. How did that work out? The country has been consumed by riots ever since.

OK, not Arnell's fault, but not helping, either.

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