Part of the JCW soul is the sound.
Mini is again beating the drum that future John Cooper Works models may lack its iconic, and raucous, exhaust note – and its combustion engines – fans have come to love. Andreas Lampka, Mini's head of communications, talked about electrifying the next generation of JCW models, along with the challenges that could bring, according to Motoring.com.au.
Lampka wondered why Mini shouldn't electrify JCW models, saying, "Why not make the pinnacle of the brand an EV?" There's little doubt future Minis will offer some form of partial or full electrification; however, electrifying its JCW models could be challenging.
While Mini isn't a "total fan" of electric cars, there's little denying the benefits of electric powertrains – improved torque and acceleration. Those are welcomed in any performance car, but for many enthusiasts, joy comes from more than just the feeling of speed. Lampka said, "The emotional appeal of a JCW is the sound of it," adding that Mini would need to reinvent that feeling, and that's something not easily achievable with an electric vehicle.
That doesn't mean such a transition can't happen. Tesla has made EVs mainstream, and now there's the Porsche Taycan – an electric sports car born and bred from the German automaker. However, Lampka says moving the JCW to electricity would be difficult because "there's never been a car like that."
Gallery: MINI Electric (MINI Cooper SE)
For all the electric talk Mini is putting out there, customers shouldn't expect an overnight transformation for the brand. Last month, Mini U.S. vice president Mike Peyton echoed similar sentiments about electrifying JCW models. He said there's "potential" for such a thing to happen, though even he recognized that it's the car's driving dynamics that help connect the driver to the vehicle, and sound is apart of that connection.
One day Mini will have to tackle the acoustics issue for electric JCW models. But first, Mini has to figure out how to efficiently package an electric powertrain into such small cars. Battery technology is improving, but it's not there yet for Mini.