UPDATE, November 17: The Mini Electric John Cooper Works has been teased in a video about the BMW iNext (or, by its production name, iX).
The all-electric hot hatch appears to share much of its body with the Mini JCW GP, but the sketches show yellow highlights liberally applied across the vehicle's exterior. Most notably, however, is the absence of tailpipes, all but confirming that this is an electric version of a JCW Mini.
November 3, 2020: It appears as if a Mini Electric John Cooper Works is currently in development.
Mini-specialist website MotoringFile reports the prototype was spotted wearing the body kit borrowed from the track-focused Mini JCW GP (shown below), but instead uses the Mini Electric's front grille, limiting air into the engine bay and improving aerodynamics.
Also conspicuously missing from the mule vehicle was a set of exhaust pipes.
While the JCW-fettled Mini Electric prototype spied might have the visual aggression to match its high-performance badge, details of what powers it remain unclear. An upgrade over the standard car's 135kW/270Nm front-mounted motor is likely, though without a suitable electric powertrain option currently on offer within the BMW and Mini ranges, how much of a performance boost the zero-emissions John Cooper Works model would receive is unknown.
For reference, the current, petrol-powered Mini John Cooper Works GP features a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine shared with other BMW and Mini products, sending 225kW and 450Nm to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The test vehicle was seen just days after UK publication Auto Express revealed John Cooper Works will be transformed into an electric-only performance sub-brand.
Rather than tasked with offering sportier variants within the Mini range, JCW will become a dedicated, stand-alone sub-brand, in much the same way Mercedes-Benz has split its AMG performance and Maybach ultra-luxe divisions into brands within a brand.
Mini's boss Bernd Körber believes JCW can be more than it is currently: "There will still be a market and customer demand for [internal combustion engined] John Cooper Works, but ultimately the performance [brand] will be electrified – and for MINI it fits".
"What we would like to do is make John Cooper Works a real electric performance brand," Mr Körber said.
While the first electric JCW wasn't expected until 2024, the appearance of a prototype undergoing on-road testing suggests the first model may appear as soon as 2022.