Mini: Electric Performance Fun, Here to Stay

John Cooper Works EVs: An Everlasting Legacy

In 2002, the John Cooper Works brand was introduced as an available choice from dealers for fresh Mini Coopers. This included a newly-installed exhaust, ECU reset, and some other improvements which increased power. Over the past couple of years, however, JCW has become its own full-fledged performance entity, in a similar manner to BMW M. Plus, much like its German equivalent, JCW will remain even when we enter the electric age.

During an interview with the Vice President of Mini Americas, Mike Peyton, and Global Head of Mini Product Christian Wehner, both leadership figures were determined to stay true to JCW even as the automotive industry shifts toward electrification.

“John Cooper Works is so essential for our brand,” Wehner notes. “Of course, our objective is always to bring John Cooper Works into the electric era.” Mike Peyton reaffirms that idea by adding, “There are definitely some projects in the pipeline, as when you think about a more performance-oriented EV, that’s a nice fit with JCW.”

However, JCW EVs must still preserve the “go-kart” driving experience that is synonymous with Mini, which may be challenging with the addition of heavy battery packs. According to Wehner, the objective isn’t to have the best acceleration, but rather to identify “the right sweet spot” between power and agility.

“Electric cars are known for their good acceleration,” states the expert, “but does that necessarily mean they provide go-kart level excitement? Not necessarily. There are other factors to consider, such as the weight of the vehicle, the steering system, and the overall driving experience.”

“At the conclusion of the day,” Sutton states, “it has to be a Mini. It must perform like a Mini, it must drive like a Mini… so that is a bit of a challenge.”

Though the introduction of BMW Group JCW EV’s is on the horizon, gas engines are not completely a thing of the past (as of yet). Until such time that 50% of vehicles manufactured by the company in 2030 will be electric, Wehner asserts they will still make four fuel motors for their subsequent JCW models.

“We’ve been discussing the possibility of being more electrified or even fully electrified by the early 2030s,” Peyton states, “but that still leaves us with a few years left to enjoy gasoline-powered JCWs, particularly in North America where the demand for them is still high.”

Although manual Minis with the combustion engine have become almost extinct, there may be a faint glimmer of hope for JCW EVs. When asked about this, Sutton commented: “Definitely as you start to go toward electrification, that is a question we’re asking. How do we make it possible for those who still want that experience [of a manual]? It is something we are definitely considering.”

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