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MINI JCW Poised to Be Spun Off Into EV Sub-Brand

John Cooper Works. Three words that make every MINI enthusiast go weak in the knees, more so if we’re referring to the JCW GP that costs a mind-boggling $44,900.
MINI JCW 51 photos
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Founded by the son of John Cooper – who designed the Mini Cooper from the olden days – JCW was acquired by the Bavarians at Bayerische Motoren Werke in 2007. Under the control of BMW, the go-faster lineup got increasingly faster and more expensive. After all, $45k is a ludicrous amount of greenback for a lil' hatch.

BMW has also – dare I say it – diluted MINI over the course of two decades, hence the British automaker’s troubled condition. Sales were down by 4 percent last year, and 2020 is even harder as you may know from the figures for the first three quarters.

Difficult times call for drastic measures, and the saving grace for JCW may be “its own electrified performance sub-brand which could have its own dedicated model.” Auto Express received a hint in this regard from none other than the man in charge.

“People very often perceive the JCW as our top model or performance model,” said Bernd Korber, head of MINI at BMW AG. “What we would like to do is make John Cooper Works a real electric performance brand,” but don’t hold your breath just yet.

Auto Express believes that John Cooper Works electric cars and utility vehicles are due in 2024 at the earliest, but that’s not all. “The first offerings are anticipated to be re-engineered versions of the three new core models.” The cited publication refers to a hatchback, a larger version of the Countryman, and a new compact EV crossover.

But there’s a bit of a problem with this strategy too because reinventing an icon of the automotive world is pretty darn hard. Moving the MINI brand and JCW sub-brands upmarket through electrification will alienate even more enthusiasts from the British automaker, and new customers will have little reason for buying into either brand.

Take the MINI Cooper SE electric hatchback as a case in point. At $30k before freight and the federal tax incentive, there’s no denying it makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint. But with 110 miles of EPA-rated driving range and not too much practicality either, the slightly more expensive Nissan Leaf makes more sense to a wider audience.

Now imagine we're in the year 2025, the MINI JCW hatchback features an electric powertrain, and the Tesla Model 3 Performance is even more extreme than before. Care to guess which of these two unlikely rivals will have the last laugh in terms of commercial success?

 
 
 
 
 

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