Remember those fun little Jeep-like Moke cars from the heyday of 1960s open-top fun-mobiles? Just months after landing a $55M funding deal, MOKE International is bringing them back to the US for the first time in decades with its new MOKE Californian model.
Update: Moke just announced their U.S. pricing today ($41,900) (!!) which is about $10k higher than it is in Europe.
MOKE Californian returning to US
Some of our readers may remember that Mokes were Jeep-like British cars first built in the 1960s.
They grew popular across much of Europe before expanding to cities in Asia and North America, aided by a slew of celebrities that opted for the joy-riding vehicles in the ’60s and ’70s.
Official numbers are hard to come by, but it is likely that around 50,000 of the vehicles were produced by various manufacturers over the years, helping develop a cult following for the fun little open-top runabouts.
Several decades before the Jeep Wrangler dominated coastal towns as the breezy beach vehicle of choice, Mokes were all the rage.
Decades later, UK-based MOKE International now tells us that they are returning to the United States with an improved and more powerful all-electric MOKE Californian. The move comes some 40 years since the last original version was last sold in the US.
According to the company, MOKE International’s electric MOKE Californian stands to become the only highway-legal Moke available in the US and the country’s “first genuine version of the original Mini Moke to go on sale since 1982.”
The expansion into the North American market likely received a boost from MOKE International’s $55M funding deal earlier this year that saw EV Technology Group expand its stake in the company into a majority ownership.
As EVTG’s Founder and CEO Wouter Witvoet explained in a statement provided to Electrek:
“This is an incredible step toward getting original MOKE vehicles on the road in the U.S. EV Technology Group’s mission is to electrify iconic brands and bring back the joy of driving in the electric era. The MOKE is a perfect example of this. There is a bright future ahead for the MOKE Electric Californian, and our goal at EV Technology Group is to fully support it every step of the way.”
The original Moke Californian that sold in the US during the 1970s and 1980s came with a 1,275cc internal combustion engine (ICE). Decades later, MOKE International’s new Californian is now an all-electric vehicle with a 33 kW electric motor replacing the old gasoline-powered engine. In fact, while MOKE International did produce ICE-powered versions, the brand has since gone all-electric.
The new MOKE Californian features an 80 km/h (50 mph) top speed and a 0-55 km/h (0-34 mph) time of 4.3 seconds. It sports a lithium-ion battery with enough capacity for a claimed 120 km (74.5 mile) range based on the WLTP testing protocol. Or as MOKE puts it, “enough to cruise Route 101 down to Malibu Beach from Santa Barbara.”
The vehicles are designed with a full light package, retro-style needle gauges on the instrument panel, four seats with three-point safety belts (adjustable front seats and bench rear seats), waterproof speakers, waterproof upholstery, and a Bimini roof. Owners can also upgrade to a full canopy with doors.
The manufacturer MOKE International is the owner of the original 1964 Moke trademark as well as over 100 other Moke trademarks. In Europe, the company is widely recognized as the direct descendant of the original manufacturer of the legendary Mini Moke vehicle.
Some of my readers may recall that we covered another Moke manufacturer, MOKE America, earlier this summer. That company also produces Moke-style vehicles, though MOKE International maintains that MOKE America does not own the trademark, and thus has been engaged in a lengthy legal battle with the US-based company.
Earlier this year a MOKE International representative explained to Electrek that “MOKE America is not legally allowed to use the MOKE name, they are infringing on the trademark.”
MOKE International claimed the following in a legal filing:
MOKE International (MIL) owns the original 1964 European ‘MOKE’ Trademark and circa 100 others worldwide including the US mark following its sale by ACG Inc in 2016. In 2020, The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) dismissed the opposition of “Moke America” to MOKE International and its then JV partners, MOKE USA, re-registering that trademark. Though “Moke America” have appealed, we allege in our most recent lawsuit that they copied our designs and that their cars do not comply with U.S. automotive legislation. The court case will be heard in January 2023.
We don’t yet have any info on when exactly the MOKE Californian will be available in the US or what the price tag will be, but MOKE International tells us that those details will be coming in a matter of weeks.
For comparison, the manufacturer currently sells its vehicles for £29,150 (approximately US $32,860) in the UK.
Could you see yourself heading to the beach in a MOKE Californian? Let us know in the comments section below!
And just for fun, here’s an old photo of Electrek’s publisher Seth Weintraub with a vintage Moke variant that he used to drive in Macau. Without a left-hand manual 4-speed gearbox, the new all-electric MOKE Californian should be much easier (and quieter) to drive.
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