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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Toyota's ready to make a big announcement.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation2

Auto Shanghai has another surprise in store. Toyota will debut an electrified vehicle next week and ahead of that moment, the company has leaked teaser photos and video featuring the model on its social media channels.

One of the posts, available on Twitter and Instagram, showcases the vehicle and a series of conceptual, perhaps inspirational, related items. A light shines as a reflection in an eye. A design on paper leads to a math equation. A laser, perhaps a plasma cutter, is focused on an object. Watch the see the rest.


It passes by quickly, but in there is the shape of a crossover. We've captured the moment in a still photo below so you can take a longer look. From the body design quickly shown here, the SUV is shaped more like the Toyota Venza than the Toyota RAV4. The key here is the rear side window, which is more triangular, like the Venza, than the squared-off RAV4''s.

202 The shape of the vehicle is similar to the Toyota Venza.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

2022 Toyota Venza EV

The face of the vehicle, shown in another social media post (this time on Instagram) and at the top of this article, shows a pared back vehicle face. The height of the vehicle confirms that it's in fact a crossover body style.

We do know that Subaru and Toyota have been working on an electric SUV for a while. While Subaru is likely calling the vehicle "Evoltis" there's some indication that Toyota may be reviving the "Celica" name for the EV. Batteries, after all, are made up of cells.

As of right now, we have to take the wait-and-see approach. One thing's for sure. We'll know more next week.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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