Concept Cars

MINI's new electric concepts test what's possible for John Cooper Works models

John Cooper Works MINIs are the sportiest varieties.

Photo courtesy of MINI

Electric vehicles are basically in two camps: fuel saves and performance enhancers. MINI is exploring the possibilities of electric mobility for its most performance-focused models, which wear the John Cooper Works badge.

These models will not be built on the architecture of the company's current models. MINI says that they will feature a next-gen frame and be available with electric drive capability and in internal combustion variants.

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works JCW Electric EV testing MINI is committed to keeping the spirited identity of John Cooper Works models.Photo courtesy of MINI

Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI brand, explained that the John Cooper Works models will be a blend of sustainability, performance, and passion. "John Cooper Works models with conventional combustion engines will still continue to have an important role to play, to make sure we're addressing the wishes and needs of performance enthusiasts all around the world," said Körber. "With this new focus on electric performance, we're also creating the opportunity to sharpen the distinctive profile of the John Cooper Works brand more than ever before."

In October, MINI outlined its plans for new models, including electric vehicles. The future core portfolio of all-electric vehicles will include the MINI 3-Door Hatch, a new crossover model in the small-car segment, and a compact crossover model. The brand's small-car models and a crossover model in the compact segment will be available with internal combustion engines.

The new crossover model will only be offered with an all-electric drivetrain. The next-generation Mini Countryman will be available with both combustion engines and an electrified drivetrain.

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works JCW Electric EV testing The cars are testing what is possible with MINI's next-gen architecture.Photo courtesy of MINI

In light of the upcoming changes, MINI is promising that MINI models will not lose their identity. "It is part of our responsibility to the brand and the community to preserve the unique character of MINI," said Körber. "That is why every new model from our brand in future will be unmistakably a MINI."

MINI is now preparing the next step in the development of electric John Cooper Works models. "With the MINI Electric, we've shown how well brand-typical driving enjoyment and electric mobility can be combined," said Körber. "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."

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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