A few months ago at the JCW GP launch we had a chance to speak to the program manager and engineers responsible for the car. While there was an air of excitement to the conversation there was also a bit of melancholy in talking about this 3rd generation GP as very likely the last petrol-powered version produced.
It’s not just MINI, of course. Fiat’s new 500 shown last week is all electric with no new petrol derivative planned.
Fiat boss Olivier Francois made it clear; “we’re all in. It’s all electric and only electric from day one. With the 500’s business success that’s a bold decision. But it doesn’t feel the time to be timid. This car is not just for 2020, but the next decade. It’s built new from the ground up.”
If your curious what starting from an all electric platform gets you over the retrofit approach of MINI, it’s about 40 miles more range.
The JCW GP (and even the electric Cooper SE) rides on a dedicated internal combustion engine platform – the likes of which will be phased out around 2022. And as we’ve reported on MF, MINI is planning for the next hatch to be electric only and based on a dedicated electric platform shared with Great Wall Motors. While the larger MINIs will carry on with petrol powered equivalents, the smaller hatch will move to all electric meaning that this current generation of MINIs will be the last of their kind.
So while we’re likely a full seven years away from seeing a new GP, it’s already clear at MINI that they will not be able to produce a car like the GP again. The demands for electrification will likely mean that even most larger MINIs will have some sort of hybrid assistance – especially those at the high performance end of the spectrum. For instance, rumors point to the current 301 hp B48 engine being replaced by a 340 hp hybridized version in the coming years in the larger JCW MINIs.
Even having another GP (electric or not) is up in the air. MINIs brand emphasis will quickly be moving towards full electrification making that special projects like the GP not as financially viable.
What it means is that the car you see above may be even more special than we first thought.
We’re on the precipice of a seismic shift in the marketplace as the industry moves to electrification. It’s not happening overnight. But in an industry of 7 year (or more) product cycles, it’s easy to see how something like the GP could quickly get caught out from MINI’s future product plans. Or at the very least be designed substantially differently from the current car.