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 testingMINI 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 testingThe 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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First-year Ford F-150 Lightning production numbers doubled
Ford

Ford has begun serial production of the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, marking what could be one of the most important days in recent automotive history. The first trucks rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan today, so America's best-selling truck has finally gone electric. Ford wants to sell two million EVs per year by 2026 and have half of its global sales volume to be electric by 2030.

Ford F-150 LightningPast meets future: Ford's new electric pickup will be the F-150 Lightningautomotivemap.com

Ford has seen extreme demand for the trucks, with 200,000 reservations since the books opened. To deliver, the automaker plans to increase production to an annual rate of 150,000 units by next year, which involved huge investments in the Rouge Center and created hundreds of jobs. Ford's total investment for the F-150 Lightning crests $1 billion across Michigan alone, and has created 1,700 jobs across various facilities in the state.

Ford F-150 LightningThe first production trucks left the factory today.
Ford Motor Company

Though the Lightning starts around $40,000, the most mainstream models will cost much more than that. The F-150 Lightning Pro, while affordable, is a stripped-down truck intended for commercial buyers. It's still a forward-looking electric truck with amazing capabilities, but it lacks much of the creature comforts and features that everyday drivers expect. Higher trims get the latest driver assistance features, including BlueCruise, which is Ford's semi-autonomous hands-free driving assistant. A 12-inch touchscreen is standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.

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Electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning could get tank turn

Ford patented a tank turn feature in late 2020.

Ford

The F-150 Lightning is packed with cool tech and capability, but we're learning that Ford has even bigger plans for its first electric pickup. Inside EVs found an exciting document on the Lightning Owners Forum that shows ford applied to patent a tank turn feature like the one we saw Rivian pull off a few years ago, where the truck spins around a center point using its electric motors. Rivian's tank turn feature still hasn't made it to market, so it's possible that Ford beats them to the punch.

Ford F-150 LightningTank turn allows the truck to spin while almost completely stationary.Ford

Ford applied for the patent in October 2020, but it's just now making its way out. In the document, Ford gives an example of how it could work: "Methods, apparatus, systems and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension."

As Inside EVs points out, Rivian's tank turn feature employs the R1 T's quad-motor setup to drive each wheel individually. The F-150 Lightning doesn't currently have a four-motor choice and instead offers two motors – one on each axle. It's important to note that Rivian patented tank turn and showed that it could work, but there hasn't yet been a production vehicle that offers the capability. Toyota filed a patent in 2019, but again it's just paperwork at this point.

Ford F-150 LightningNo automaker has brought tank turn to production yet.

To achieve the turn, Ford has a few options. The most obvious would be to offer a quad-motor upgrade in future model years. It's unclear if such a feature is in the works or if Ford plans to provide beefier versions of the Lightning, such as a Raptor variant with upgraded motors. The automaker could also design gearing to reverse the wheels on one side while the others drive forward, or it could use braking to lock the wheels and tighten the turning radius.

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