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Fun-filled MOKE California Open-Top Electric Vehicle Returns to the US

Fun-filled MOKE California Open-Top Electric Vehicle Returns to the US

Remember those fun little Jeep-esque Moke cars from the heyday of the 60’s open-top fun-mobiles? Just Months After Landing a $55 Million Financing DealMOKE International is bringing them back to the US for the first time in decades with its new MOKE California model.

MOKE Californian returns to the US

Some of our readers may remember that Mokes were Jeep-esque British cars first built in the 1960s.

They became popular across much of Europe before expanding to cities in Asia and North America, aided by a slew of celebrities who chose the joy-riding vehicles in the 1960s and 1970s.

Official numbers are hard to come by, but it’s likely that around 50,000 of the vehicles have been produced over the years by various manufacturers, helping to develop a cult following for the fun little open-top runabouts.

Several decades before the Jeep Wrangler dominated coastal towns as the windy beach vehicle of choice, Mokes were all the rage.

Decades later, based in the UK MOKE International now tells us they are returning to the United States with an improved and more powerful all-electric MOKE Californian. The move comes about 40 years since the last original version was last sold in the US.

According to the company, MOKE International’s electric MOKE Californian will be the only highway-legal Moke available in the US and the “first true version of the original Mini Moke to go on sale since 1982.”

Expansion into the North American market likely got a boost from MOKE International’s $55M financing deal earlier this year causing EV Technology Group to expand its stake in the company to a majority stake.

As EVTG’s founder and CEO Wouter Witvoet explained in a statement to: Electrek:

“This is an incredible step to get original MOKE vehicles on the road. The mission of the American EV Technology Group is to electrify iconic brands and bring driving pleasure back to the electric era. The MOKE is a perfect example of this. There is a bright future for the MOKE Electric Californian and our goal at EV Technology Group is to fully support it every step of the way.”

mug international

The original Moke Californian sold in the US in 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 that replaces the old gasoline engine. Although MOKE International produced ICE-powered versions, the brand has since gone all-electric.

The new MOKE Californian has a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and a 0-55 km/h (0-34 mph) time of 4.3 seconds. It has a lithium-ion battery with sufficient capacity for a claimed range of 120 km (74.5 miles) based on the WLTP test protocol. Or as MOKE puts it, “enough to cruise Route 101 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 seat belts (adjustable front and rear seats), waterproof speakers, waterproof trim and a Bimini roof. Owners can also upgrade to a full canopy with doors.

The manufacturer MOKE International owns the original 1964 Moke trademark and 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 remember that we covered another Moke manufacturer, MOKE America, earlier this summer. That company also produces Moke-style vehicles, although MOKE International claims that MOKE America does not own the trademark, and thus is engaged in a lengthy legal battle with the US-based company.

Earlier this year, a representative from MOKE International explained that: Electrek that “MOKE America is not legally allowed to use the MOKE name, they are trademark infringement.”

MOKE International claimed the following in a legal filing:

MOKE International (MIL) owns the original European ‘MOKE’ trademark dating from 1964 and approximately 100 others worldwide, including the US brand after its sale by ACG Inc in 2016. In 2020, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) rejected the opposition of “Moke America” to MOKE International and its then-JV partners, MOKE USA, to re-register that trademark. Although “Moke America” ​​has appealed, in our most recent lawsuit we allege that they copied our designs and that their cars do not comply with U.S. auto laws. The lawsuit will be heard in January 2023.

moke californian

We don’t have any information yet on exactly when the MOKE Californian will be available in the US or what the price tag will be, but MOKE International tells us those details will be out in a few weeks.

In comparison, the manufacturer currently sells its vehicles for £29,150 (about US$32,860) in the UK.

Can you see yourself going to the beach in a MOKE Californian? Let us know in the comments below!

And just for fun, here’s an old photo of it Electrek’s publisher Seth Weintraub with a vintage Moke variation that he used to drive in Macau. Without a four-speed manual transmission, the new all-electric MOKE Californian should be much easier (and quieter) to drive.

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