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Mini Australia pushes up global JCW share

Firecracker: Mini’s all-new JCW GP remains under wraps, but was previewed a couple of years ago with a concept shown at the Frankfurt motor show.

JCW models at 15 per cent of Mini’s local sales as GP halo, other hotties draw near

15 Oct 2019

SALES of high-performance John Cooper Works (JCW) versions of Mini vehicles in Australia have risen to 15 per cent of the BMW-owned British premium brand’s volume and are expected to push higher as brand-boosting new models arrive to bolster the range – including the sizzling JCW GP due mid-2020.


In an interview with GoAuto in Melbourne last week on the sidelines of Motorclassica, where Mini was celebrating its 60th anniversary, Mini Australia general manager Brett Waudby said Australia remained one of the leading markets worldwide for share of JCW sales as a percentage of overall volume, locked in contest for top billing with Russia and the Middle East.


Mini Australia’s share was sitting at about 10 per cent in 2017 and the push up to 15 comes as BMW Australia has increased its share of M vehicle sales to 20 per cent – sitting at second in the world earlier this year – although this also includes ‘M Performance’ model variants as well as ‘pure M’ vehicles.


Hot new 225kW JCW versions of the Clubman and Countryman are arriving this month, including a new Pure variant of the former, while the high-performance line-up will be crowned next year by the highly anticipated but strictly limited JCW GP, demand in Australia for which is already far outstripping anticipated supply.


“Our ratio of JCW is approximately 15 per cent across our current portfolio,” Mr Waudby said.


“We’re one of the highest in the world as Australia is very much a sportscar market … we’re about third or fourth behind Russia, which is one of the top markets for the share, and the Middle East as well – they have a very high share of JCW – so we well-outperform the global average.”


Mr Waudby said the Australian operation has no specific target laid down but anticipates growth on the back of new model releases.


“The biggest thing for us is that we have an engine which is at 225kW now for the JCW Clubman (and Countryman), we’re looking at the GP obviously for next year that will also be a halo for the brand, and our JCW customers are buying the pinnacle of our cars where that ‘go-kart’ feeling goes to the next level,” he said.


Pricing and specification and, most notably, Australian allocation for the still-secret JCW GP remain undisclosed at this stage, with Mr Waudby admitting that local numbers from the 3000 global pool will be small.


“We haven’t got final allocation yet – we’ve been given an indicative range, which is not a lot, it certainly isn’t a lot, in fact I can pretty much say that … enquiry is far exceeding it at the moment – we will not have enough cars to satisfy demand,” he said.


“Demand for this car is super-high, it really is, and we’ve got a lot of people going into dealerships right now trying to put down deposits and securing allocation, but to be honest we haven’t even confirmed our allocation yet.”


Mr Waudby said the company was currently collating pre-order numbers, but noted that “it’s probably been one of the biggest (responses) we’ve ever had”.


With the previous JCW GP made available in 2013, Australia was allocated 55 units from a production run of 2000 vehicles.


“I’m hoping to get more (this time around),” Mr Waudby said. “If we can get more, we’ll sell them.”


Asked when JCW would turn to electrification, the Mini Australia chief, who was previously based at BMW Group headquarters in Munich and responsible for Mini sales across Asia-Pacific, South Africa and the Middle East, said the forthcoming Mini Cooper SE hatch – the brand’s first mass-market all-electric vehicle, which is also due here mid-2020 – was the next big step in this area and that a JCW version was a possibility once the mainstream version was bedded in.


“Who knows what the future will bring us. I mean, I’m sure the guys and girls in Munich are currently thinking about how JCW will be positioned (in the electric era), but right now, for us, our concentration will be on the Cooper electric hatch and making sure that we’ve got the right car for the customers here,” he said.


“Customers that have a JCW currently and will get to drive the new electric hatch, (they’ll see) that the fundamentals will be the same – the go-kart feeling, the driving style and everything else.


“To be honest, the electric hatch, with the instant torque and everything that goes with it, is going to be a super-fun car to drive.”

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