Bardowell is the temporary owner of one of just 450 Mini Es released in North America as part of a one-year experimental program, after which all of the vehicles will be returned and analyzed by BMW.
He received his car last month, after the automaker delayed its distribution, and has experienced some of the bumps associated with trying out a new product — like a mechanical malfunction that once prevented his Mini E from starting. But so far he has found himself advocating an emerging type of automotive technology that other area commuters could benefit from as well, he said.
The car does have limitations, he said, citing its 150-mile maximum range that other owners and Mini executives admit remains a problem.
But for a commuter, it works, Bardowell said.
“I commute back and forth to Burbank like four times a day, so for me it’s like 14 miles round-trip,” he said. “So I could actually go back and forth to work two to four times a day on one charge.”
Although the car’s power supply, a set of lithium-ion batteries that occupy the entire space of a typical Mini Cooper’s back seat, prevents Bardowell from making trips to Las Vegas, he does enjoy zooming past gas stations.
And the car is fun to drive, he said.
Sitting behind the wheel of the agile two-door car, Bardowell zipped his Mini E up a steep incline outside his home.
“I never expected it was going to handle the way that it does,” Bardowell said.
Upon reaching the top of the hill, Bardowell released the gas pedal to allow the car to simultaneously recharge while decelerating.
The move prompted activity on a dashboard gauge displaying the amount of energy going back to the batteries.
After a few more turns, Bardowell charged onto the Glendale (2) Freeway.