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1960s Beach Classic Returns With An Electric Engine Makeover

The electric vehicle (EV) market is growing rapidly. Major auto brands like Chevy and Volkswagen to niche manufacturers like Fisker and Lucid are developing new EVs every day. There has also been a push to restore classic combustion cars with electric motors, combining a sense of nostalgia with futuristic clean thinking. The MOKE Californian, an open-top vehicle that was a staple of 1970s beach culture, fits this bill. 

Long before the Jeep, MOKE was the standard for beach travel. Although the Californian’s time in showrooms in America was brief, from 1977 to 1982, the British carmaker became a cult classic. 

Forty years later, MOKE International announced a $55 million funding round that will reproduce the Californian as an EV.

This model will be street-legal, so if you live on the breezy East Coast or the sparkling West Coast, you can take the Californian down the road and set up your towel and chairs. 

It won’t be fast, with top speeds reaching 50 miles per hour. It also isn’t designed for long-range travel, with only 80 miles of range when fully charged. Charging times can vary based on the cord, but the company believes the model can reach full battery in four hours. The car is meant for quick, clean, short-range driving. 

Photo Courtesy MOKE International

MOKE ended business operations in North America in the 1980s but was still popular in the U.K. and France as a beachside luxury cruiser. Since leaving North America, the company has shifted to producing classic vehicles with electric modifications. The funding deal, done in partnership with EVT Technology Group, is helping reestablish its international presence.

With the high demand for the electric Californian in Europe, the firm hopes the interest in the vehicle still remains high in America. “This is a momentous time for MOKE International. It’s great to be able to offer the U.S. market a genuine MOKE car for the first time in 40 years,” said Isobel Dando, MOKE International CEO. 

Photo Courtesy MOKE International

One milestone MOKE’s electric reinvention has reached is being the first 1960s car brand to become 100% fully electric. When production of the original Californian ceased in 1993, various aftermarket models found their way into American garages. It garnered a cult following due to its sleek, fashionable design and comfortable riding experience. 

Many celebrities had the privilege to ride in the cars before they became a niche, including legends such as The Beatles and, appropriately, The Beach Boys.

The Mini version was the pinnacle of the British carmaker’s fleet in the 60s. EVT and MOKE International hope that reinventing this beloved beach accessory with zero-emission technology with further its legacy. 

“This is an incredible step toward getting original MOKE vehicles on the road in the U.S.,” said Wouter Witvoet, EVT Group CEO. “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.”   

The starting MSRP is $41,900 with a refundable $990 pre-order fee. MOKE still targets beach lovers who need easy transportation to the dunes, around town, and back home. It’s all about paying homage to the classic while recognizing the shift to EVs. 

“The original Moke Californian represented an incredibly important chapter in the company’s rich history,” said Dando. “We are proud that the MOKE lives on and can be enjoyed in the electric era.” 


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