Effectively confirming a report by TheDetroitBureau.com a month back, Mini has formally announced plans to develop an all-electric version of its John Cooper Works hatchback.
Mini only recently launched its first battery-electric vehicle, the Cooper SE, and officially announced in late October that it had plans to offer at least three BEVs in the next few years. What sources also indicated is that the British marque’s high-performance niche line, the John Cooper Works, or JCW, models, would go electric. The camouflaged model shown here reveals the beginning of that transition process.
“With the Mini Electric, we’ve shown how well brand-typical driving enjoyment and electric mobility can be combined,” Bernd Körber, head of the Mini brand, said in a statement. “Now it’s time to translate the passion for performance of the John Cooper Works brand to electromobility. That’s why we’re working to develop concepts for electric John Cooper Works models.”
Mini was one of the first brands to explore electrification, fielding a small fleet of all-electric prototypes early on in the last decade. But it held off bringing a BEV to market until recently. Now, it seems, it is embracing electromobility full-on.
Along with the all-electric SE it now offers a plug-in hybrid version of its most popular model, dubbed the Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4. That PHEV generated fully 5% of total global brand sales during the past year. The battery-based share has doubled since the launch of all-electric Cooper SE, according to the automaker.
“Based on this experience, and looking ahead to future technology, Mini is now preparing the next step in the development of electric John Cooper Works models,” the automaker said in a brief statement.
Mini didn’t reveal any details about the all-electric John Cooper Works hatchback shown here. What we can be quite confident about is that it will deliver significantly more power and better performance than the new Cooper SE. The brand’s first all-electric offering turns out a solid 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque – compared to 134 hp and 162 lb-ft for the gas-powered model.
The all-electric driveline cuts 0-100 kmh (0-62 mph) launches down by a tenth of a second, to 7.3 seconds. But that’s still a second slower than a John Cooper Works model using an internal combustion engine. Considering the massive amounts of instant-on torque electric motors can deliver, it’s a safe bet to believe the all-electric JCW will handily improve current performance numbers.
What we can expect to see is Mini borrowing liberally from the toolbox of its parent, BMW, the Bavarian automaker itself in the midst of a rapid push to electrify. It has several driveline upgrades the Brits could borrow, including the 286 hp motor found in the new BMW iX3. All this assumes Mini will stay with a single-motor layout but it’s quite possible it could take advantage of the compact size of electric drive components and find a way to squeeze in twin motors, one on each axle.
Will the John Cooper Works line go fully electric, as our sources – and reports from Europe – indicated back in October? That seems to be the direction the performance line is heading, though not immediately.
“John Cooper Works models with conventional combustion engines will still continue to have an important role to play, to make sure we’re addressing the wishes and needs of performance enthusiasts all around the world,” said Körber. “With this new focus on electric performance, we’re also creating the opportunity to sharpen the distinctive profile of the John Cooper Works brand more than ever before.”
From a visual standpoint you might not notice much of a difference between the camouflaged JCW model being tested here and today’s hatchback. A closer look reveals a few significant differences, however, starting with the closed off grille at the front end and both a lack of tailpipes and a boxy new wing around back. Aerodynamics are critical for BEVs, both to enhance performance and improve range.
How soon we might see a production version of this JCW hatchback is uncertain but the fact that Mini is showing it off with only a modicum of camo could suggest it’s not going to arrive that far off into the future.