The iconic open-topped Mini Moke is officially returning to the US after a 40-year hiatus, but this time the highway-legal Moke Californian will be sporting an electric drivetrain with a 50-mph top speed and a per-charge range of 80 miles.
Project Buckboard began in the late 1950s with the aim of developing a lightweight vehicle for the military, which could be parachuted into warzone and quickly get troops to where they needed to be. A number of prototypes were designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and John Sheppard, but the armed forces didn’t bite so the British Motor Corporation subsequently opened up the order books to the public in 1964.
The Mini Moke proved quite popular in warmer locations like the French Riviera, the Caribbean and Australia, and enjoyed a good deal of time in the media spotlight thanks to appearances in a bunch of movies, including four James Bond films. But one of my earliest recollections of these odd buggies was seeing them ferry residents of The Village around in Patrick McGoohan’s extraordinary mid-1960s TV series, The Prisoner.
Those taxis were powered by small Austin engines of course, but Moke International – which is the only company to own the official 1964 Moke trademark, so is not to be confused with the likes of Moke America, Lazareth or Chery Motors – announced that it was going fully electric last year, and embarked on the road to global expansion in July 2022 when it was acquired by the EV Technology Group.
The vehicle that’s heading to US shores is based on “an uprated version of the Mini Moke” that was in production between 1977 and 1982 – the Moke Californian.
“This is a momentous time for Moke International,” said company CEO, Isobel Dando. “It’s great to be able to offer the US market a genuine Moke car for the first time in 40 years. The original Moke Californian represented an incredibly important chapter in the company’s rich history; we are proud that the Moke lives on and can be enjoyed in the electric era.”
The four-seater is being produced in the UK and shipped to the US, and features a 44-hp (33-kW) peak motor for a rear-wheel-drive sprint from standstill to 34 mph (55 km/h) in 4.3 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h). And its Li-ion battery pack is reckoned good for up to 80 miles (120 km) for every four hours plugged into a US Type 1 charger, which is reckoned “enough to cruise Route 101 down to Malibu Beach from Santa Barbara.”
Other features of note include automatic transmission, front/back coiled suspension, disc braking to the front and drum at the rear, a heated windshield, black weatherproof upholstery, three-point safety belts, a dash that’s home to traditional-looking speedo and gauges, a pair of waterproof speakers plus a radio, LED daylight-running headlights, a Bimini top as standard, and a spare wheel/tire out back.
Details of pricing and availability are expected to follow “in the coming weeks.”
Source: EVT Group