Charles is a member of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association and an EV enthusiast.
While on vacation in New Caledonia, he and his wife Carol made a really interesting discovery at a cars and scooter hire. Here’s their story:
“Look at these little two stroke bumble bees. Now that’s different!” Charles says to Carol. “Carol is a wonderful companion. If I look serious enough about anything, she will willingly join in and never complains, too much!”
However in the lineup next to all these bumble bees is a beautiful restored black Moke.
I walk round and study it. Absolutely no rust. Beautifully moulded hooks on the steel bonnet. Immaculate sill boxes with all edges moulded, polished and refined. The top is a new cherry red canvas and it has pristine white seats. A tall blonde bearded young man with dreadlocks smiles. ” I love your beautifully restored Moke out there” Charles says. “It is not restored”, the man replies. “It is new!” ” No way” Charles exclaims. “It is” he assures me. And it is electric! You can hire it for the same price as the bumble bee thingies”.
“Oh Carol, we have to do it!”
“How big is the motor, how fast does it go, how long will it run? Where did you get it, how much did it cost. I need a fact sheet!” It cost $18,000 and is made in Hong Kong.
While indicating on a fresh map…”Go this way round the island. Don’t go up this steep hill, stop at these lookouts, watch the windsurfers, island speed limit is 50 kph. Top speed of this machine is 70kph. Don’t go on the freeway!” Over here they drive on the wrong side which is the right side. I am pretty good at ambidextrous. We silently whir out of the car park after a couple of shuffles. The notchy floor mounted lever slot in well to locate forward or reverse. The large centre mounted black gauge tells us battery, speed, mileage, and indicator warning light. The range set in a small round gauge with the largest part of the wedge shaped has a green light. It is fully charged. The acceleration is good enough. Ah here is the hill he said don’t go up. The busy road junction is clear, so I gun it. Our initial burst is slowed to 22kph which it happily continues to hold all the way up.
The car smells new and I am helping run it in!
We scoot down this road and that road. We even get flashed for going the wrong way. Mum would be proud of me! As we come to a forbidden military camp we silently turn round. We see two young French people leaving a gated community. They carry large backpacks. We ask if they would like a ride. There is clearly a language barrier. They say Merci, but fail to understand our offer. Carol signs, jump in the back. This works as they sling their large backpacks into the open boot space. They are on board and I turn and say to her with sign language, left or right.
We purr down this quiet street and I say in my best French accent…Electric. Ah oui! I look in the mirror and it is filled with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen….yes ever. As junctions appear I wait for one of the passengers to guide me left or right. Ah here we are back at the markets…not many parking space so we let them climb out and retrieve their back packs. What a kick we all got out of that. We could not have done that in the Bumble bee, Carol says.
Ah here is the hill again. I’ll behave myself this time. A noisy F 150 passes us on our left with its filthy exhaust filling our open cabin with stink. When you drive electric, you can’t help but notice everyone else’s pollution.
We cruise round the harbour’s edge taking in the wonderful scenery. A large open cafe on our left attracts us to stop and look around. We note many cigarettes butts lying in some of the large tubs holding palm trees. Tropical plants and palm trees are everywhere. The French waitress flicks across some coasters as we await two iced coffees and a croissant. They were iced coffees, but more of a bitter taste, maybe with a touch of cinnamon added. Carol was glad we had the croissant to take the taste away.
When we return we have a small black boy sitting on Carol’s side of the Moke. The parents are busy filming him. Ah it is electric, the father exclaims. Where did you get it? After a few minutes were able to go on our way.
We set off again, so enjoying this brand new electric toy. We only have 1/2 an hour to get our car back. The lender had said we might get 20 minutes free margin, but usually it’s an extra $70. We had the best of the weather. As we leave I think we take the wrong road down even though we had a clear view of where we are. The roof flaps away, the seat belts thrash against the roll bar in the back. Carol says she is happy to pay the excess for late return, if I would just slow down!
We can do 70 kph and frequently do. I thought I could take a shortcut through a built up area. After several dead ends and loops, Carol points out that we past that builders truck with hazard lights on some time ago when we came in. Nothing else to do but backtrack the entire coast and pay the access. As we get downtown, I sort of hoped to find the prohibited steep hill or where we picked our beautiful hitch hikers up. I am a bit disappointed with my inner location device. It’s no help. We pass one of the Choo Choos….good decision that. Well I suppose we would not now be lost, though? Carol says find a coach, any coach and follow it. It is bound to go back to the hub. And that is what we did, and here we are sneaking back in as a bumble bee tries to exit. Mokes win!
I told the guy it was absolutely great, but the hand brake is non existent. He had laboriously downloaded all the vehicle details and hand written them out as he did not have a printer. The vehicle seriously needs some re-gen. Don’t worry about the twenty minutes over, here is you deposit back.
See unplanned is better! Thank you Charles for this wonderful article. After some research, we found the following pages that could be of interest to other electric Moke fans: