Carolina Rides harnesses EV energy to power up fun


Wondering what that snappy-looking vehicle was you just passed on the road and where to find one for yourself? Drive-bys are sending enthusiastic sunseekers to Carolina Rides—an eco-friendly outfitter riding the wave of American adults pursuing an active, outdoor lifestyle. From boomers to Gen Z, folks of all ages, sizes and shapes are strapping on smart watches and pursuing more energizing activities to shape up and just plain have a good time. Carolina Rides is filling the niche with a fleet of innovative electric-powered vehicles, mopeds and paddleboards—electrifying fun and putting more people in the driver’s seat.

Entrepreneur Jason Bullock was motivated to start Carolina Rides by a strong belief in the value of the electrification of transportation. Understanding that he couldn’t compete with industry giants like Tesla and Ford, he began exploring novel products he could bring to market to achieve his vision. His philosophic ideals hardened into a full-blown plan when a buddy told him about a new electric Moke “he had to see.”

“I fell in love with it and immediately sent a note to the folks at Moke America,” says Bullock, a West Virginia native, who with wife and partner Cindy is based in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “We worked out an agreement, and I became a dealer. We are the exclusive electric Moke America dealership for all of South Carolina and Georgia.”

Propelled by clean, quiet electric power, Bullock’s best-in-class vehicles and boards make it possible to enjoy more trailblazing miles, and wave-less water surfing, without the noise and fumes produced by gas engines. And the Moke is a standout among open-air vehicles thanks to a retro Eurocentric design and islander aura.

“Moke is a long-standing, well-known brand that started as Britain’s answer to a Jeep,” explains Bullock. “The only problem is they forgot ground clearance, a very important feature of a Jeep. So, the British military started selling them out to the surplus, and they became very popular in the 1960s in the Caribbean and the British islands—that’s where I first saw one. As far as performance today, around a suburban neighborhood, a coastal town, there’s no better design, in my opinion, than a Moke. There are lots of different options for golf carts and low-speed vehicles, but none of them look as cool as a Moke.”

Along with an adjustment to its ground clearance, the Moke got a makeover so it could be sold in the United States. It was transformed into a low-speed vehicle (LSV) to pass impact requirements, and electric power replaced the original, heavily polluting gas engine to satisfy EPA requirements.

“With an electric motor, your reliability is significantly higher,” adds Bullock. “Small-scale parts don’t break at the rate of an internal combustion motor.”

Faster than a golf cart, an LSV is defined by the federal government as one with speeds of 20 to 25 mph; other mandatory features include seat belts, side and rearview mirrors, turn signals, headlights, taillights, high beams and a horn. Whether cruising the golf course or coastal pathways, the Moke delivers a ride that’s safe and stylish—and packed with wow factor. Options for personalization include the choice of 11 paint colors, Bimini tops custom made with fabric from designers like Lilly Pulitzer and Bluetooth stereo.

“What I’m really excited about is getting our new Oreion line out on the road,” says Bullock. “When people see our fun toys cruising around town, they become very engaged. Unlike the Moke, the Oreion buggy goes up to 55 miles an hour, can cover 150-plus miles on a charge, and it’s silent. And it’s only about $1,500 more than a Moke. Oreion allows you to go further, faster, without restricting the roads you can use.”

Bullock notes that differences among the Oreion and Moke, and also the Honor LSV he carries, are their features, speed and price point, which make them attractive to different customer demographics.

“Our Kaaspeed electric moped is very comfortable and has a lot of utility,” Bullock says. “A wide-profile tire makes it very easy to ride, it can go up to 26 miles an hour, and it has a 40-mile range. There are some very nice attachments available, like a golf bag rack, a rear storage basket for groceries and a surfboard rack. If you own an RV or SUV, there’s a hitch rack so you can take it with you. It comes in 12 colors, some that are identical to the Moke colors. And at $2,900, it’s the lowest-priced vehicle we offer.”

Carolina Rides’ lines of on-water toys include the Sipaboard paddleboard and Radinn jet board. The Radinn allows a surfer to “catch a wave” on any body of water at speeds of up to 35 mph. There are three different board designs that can be matched to a person’s individual ride style: a narrow board for the aggressive turns of a better rider, a durable plastic board that stands up to a beating, and a wider fiberglass board that’s easy to get up on and ride.

The Sipaboard paddleboard has a motor with three different speed settings, and a paddler has the option to ply the waters with or without the motor.

“In the Charleston area, the Sipaboards are awesome,” says Bullock. “With our big tide swings, if you’re on the water when the tide turns and get caught in the wind—paddling as hard as you can and going backward—the Sipaboard has a built-in motor that will boost you up to six miles an hour, and it will run for about two hours. It also self-inflates, making it portable and easy to get out on the water.”

Carolina Rides opens up a world of opportunity to many who, like Bullock, may not have considered mounting a conventional surfboard, or lacked access to ocean waves, but the company’s vision to electrify fun puts the excitement of outdoor recreational sports within reach. And whether your ride is an Oreion, Moke, Kaaspeed moped or Sipaboard—you’re going to like the way you look. *

Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston-based freelance writer (sweetgrassandgrits.com).

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