- The Moke Californian was inspired by a special Sixties Mini beach number.
- It will be sold in the US, but is not a highway cruiser with its 44 horsepower and a top speed of 50 mph.
- Prices start at $41,990.
Buyers looking for a retro British-inspired ultra-lightweight electric car are now faced with a tough choice as it’s been announced that a second all-electric Mini Moke is set to go on sale in the US. Meet the Moke Californian.
The original 1959 Mini was a masterpiece of minimalism, sold at home in the UK as seating for four adults, despite being just 120 inches long overall. But for its designer, Alec Issigonis, it wasn’t cut short enough. He also oversaw the development of what was essentially a shellless version of the same mechanical package. The original concept was to deploy a parachute-equipped amphibious transport vehicle, but the British Army turned down the opportunity to use what would undoubtedly be the cutest military vehicle of all time, perhaps to avoid the risk of being laughed at.
Instead, what became known as the Mini Moke was marketed as a civilian vehicle aimed at temperate parts of the world where the lack of doors and roof would be less of an issue. (Fans of the British sci-fi show Prisoner would have seen candy-striped versions of the 1960s cult classic.) It was produced at various times in the UK, Australia and Portugal, sharing its basic mechanical package with the Mini sedan – that is, the A-series transverse four-cylinder engine with a displacement of with a capacity of 0.8 to 1.2 liters and a capacity of 34 to a dizzying 68 horsepower.
The original Moke was briefly sold in the States, but production of all versions ended in 1993. In 2012, Chinese automaker Chery acquired the name and began producing a similar-looking car, albeit much larger due to the need to accommodate modern engines and a bulkier suspension. According to published numbers, it’s 11 inches longer, 14 inches wider, and has a 10-inch longer wheelbase than the original. Around the world, several companies have produced electric versions of this car, one of which is already sold in the US by Moke America.
The new Californian comes from a different company, Moke International, and will be built in the UK, although it’s based on the same Chery design as the rival car, with all the main dimensions almost identical. The Moke Californian has a more powerful transmission and, thanks to the long-delayed passage of the Small Production Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which allows the sale of replica cars, should be highway legal.
This highway is legal, not a viable interstate. The Moke Californian uses a 44bhp rear-mounted engine for a top speed of 50mph. The lithium-ion battery provides a claimed range of up to 74 miles under the European WLTP testing protocol, although it’s hard to imagine too many owners trying to achieve that in a single trip. Sales will be limited to no more than 325 vehicles per year in the U.S. — another provision of the Low Volume Act — with prices starting at $41,900.
That’s nearly double the $22,975 base price of the Moke America version, though it only has 19 horsepower and a top speed of 25 mph, and its use is limited to areas where electric cars operate.
Pick any and Mock will be on you.
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