Famous for its small, retro utility vehicles, Moke International has debuted an electric version of its 1960s Mini Moke for US$42,000. Jenny Southan reports

Moke International is returning the Moke Californian to the US after 40 years with the more powerful and highway-legal Electric Moke Californian – a zero-emissions reimagination of the original 1964 Mini Moke vehicle.

Fully charged, the Electric Moke Californian offers a range of 80 miles (120km) – enough to cruise Route 101 down to Malibu Beach from Santa Barbara. (A full charge takes four hours on a US Type 1 charger.)

On a recent trip to the British Virgin Islands, Globetrender visited two resorts (Richard Branson’s Moskito Island – pictured below – and the Aerial BVI), which had fleets of candy-coloured electric Mokes for whizzing guests around on.MokeMoke International, maker of the new Electric Moke Californian, continues the legacy of the legendary Mini Moke, but reinvented for the electric era. The Mini Moke was born in the heartland of Britain’s automotive industry, created by the father of the Mini, Sir Alec Issigonis.

With prototypes built by the British Motor Corporation in 1959, developed under the codename “The Buckboard”, the Mini Moke was originally intended to be a lightweight military vehicle that could be parachuted into warzones and help troops traverse rough ground quickly.

Marketed domestically as a utility wagon for farmers and workers, it quickly found legions of fans across the globe, especially in the South of France and Australia, where its rugged nature and open top design made it the ultimate beach shuttle. Loaded with surfboards and refreshments, with the wind running through your hair, life was for living.Electric MOKECountless admirers including The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Brigitte Bardot – all seen driving the Mini Moke in glamourous seaside locations like the French Riviera and the Caribbean – cemented its status as an icon of the Swinging Sixties.

While there were many variants of the original Mini Moke made before production ceased in 1993, perhaps the most exciting and desirable was the Moke Californian, which was sold in the US from 1977-1982.

Styling-wise, it was a departure from the Mini Moke’s utilitarian look which made it popular with a young, fashion-conscious crowd in sun-drenched locations like Playa del Rey and Cayucos.

Still built in the UK, at a state-of-the-art facility operated by Fablink Group in Northamptonshire, the new Electric Moke Californian embodies all of the same qualities of the original – fun, freedom, fresh air – but plays its role in keeping some of the world’s most beautiful locations clean through zero-emissions technology.MokeUsing a 44hp electric motor and weighing less than 800kg, the rear-wheel-drive Electric Moke Californian covers 0-34mph (0-55kph) in 4.3 seconds and achieves a top speed of 50mph (80kph).

A full charge takes just four hours via a Type 1 port and the Californian covers up to 80 miles of range on a single charge.

From this month, 325 Electric Moke Californian’s per year are available to order, with prices starting from US$41,900. (A refundable reservation fee of US$990 secures customers a build slot.)

Isobel Dando, CEO of Moke International, says: “The interest in the Electric Moke Californian since we announced its return has been huge, although perhaps not surprising considering how popular the original car was. We are thrilled to be able to offer American customers a genuine Moke vehicle once again.”