• Our Predictions for How Mini John Cooper Works Will Transition to Electrification

Mini wants to take electrification to a new level with JCW models

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As part of the BMW Group, the Mini brand is also slowly moving toward electrification. The British brand is now offering a hybrid version of the Countryman and an all-electric variant of the Cooper (called Mini Electric), but it wants to expand further. Next on the list, according to Mini, is a John Cooper Works model, and the company is already working on concept cars that will preview a high-performance EV.

The details are still under wraps

Our Predictions for How Mini John Cooper Works Will Transition to Electrification Exterior
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Mini confirmed development of "concepts for electric John Cooper Works" in a press release, but didn’t provide actual details.

"With the MINI Electric, we’ve shown how well brand-typical driving enjoyment and electric mobility can be combined,” says Bernd Körber, Head of the Mini brand. “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.”

This isn’t much, but it’s a sign of intent from Mini to join the performance electric car market. This won’t happen very soon, though. Concept cars take some time to develop, and we probably won’t see one until late 2021. If that happens, a production model will most likely follow sometime in 2022 and won’t become available in the U.S. until 2023.

What will be Mini’s first JCW EV model?

Our Predictions for How Mini John Cooper Works Will Transition to Electrification Exterior
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Mini’s first performance EV will definitely be based on the Cooper. First, it makes sense to develop a JCW version of that since Mini’s first all-electric production model, the Electric, looks like a Cooper. Second, the Cooper is the brand’s most iconic model, so choosing the hatchback for this project is the best thing Mini can do on the marketing front. Mini also started its electric vehicle development back in 2009 with the Cooper, which was used to create the Mini E demonstration car.

As Mini will expand its electric vehicle lineup from the Cooper to the Countryman and the Clubman, all will eventually become available with JCW performance EV drivetrains.

The first Mini JCW electric concept could be a different take altogether

Our Predictions for How Mini John Cooper Works Will Transition to Electrification Exterior
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While the first electric JCW model will most likely look like a Cooper, the first concept could feature a unique design.

Mini’s goal is to demonstrate that it can build efficient and fast EVs under the JCW brand, so it could opt for a sportier concept design-wise. Something like the Superleggera Vision Roadster from a few years ago. There’s nothing like a sexy roadster to promote a performance electric car that packs hundreds of horsepower, but it’s still capable of running for at least 200 miles on a single charge.

How powerful will the Mini JCW electric be?

Our Predictions for How Mini John Cooper Works Will Transition to Electrification Exterior
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The John Cooper Works badge forces Mini to deliver an electric car that’s at least as powerful as the existing gasoline JCW models. This shouldn’t be difficult to achieve. The outgoing JCW models are rated at 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, but the latest JCW Countryman ALL4, unveiled for 2020, packs a more exciting punch at 301 horses and 332 pound-feet of twist. The Mini Electric is fitted with an electric motor good for 181 horsepower, so the JCW model will need much more than that. It’s not a mystery that Mini borrows technology from BMW, so it could feature the electric motor found in the iX3, which generates 286 horsepower. That’s a bit less than ideal, but the said motor is definitely upgradable.

The JCW model could also feature a two-motor layout for AWD, in which case Mini can use two less powerful units that could generate a combined output of more than 350 or even 400 horsepower. As we already know, BMW is already working on new electric models with new technology that arrive before Mini starts rolling out brand-new EVs.

Our Predictions for How Mini John Cooper Works Will Transition to Electrification Exterior
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What I wouldn’t bet on is Mini using the electric motor from the Mini Electric in the JCW. The Mini Electric is based on the BMW i3, which is already seven years old as of 2020 and on its way out of the market. The upcoming Mini JCW EV will probably share underpinnings and tech with the BMW iX1. The electrified X1 has been spotted testing throughout 2020, and it’s scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2021.

In November 2020, BMW also unveiled the iX, an almost production-ready mid-size SUV based on the iNext concept from 2018. The iX features BMW’s fifth-generation electric drivetrain and packs quite a punch at 496 horsepower. That’s a bit too much for a JCW model, but this drivetrain could be the basis for a performance Mini EV model with some detuning. This new drivetrain should also provide a range of up to 300 miles.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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