San Diego Electrical Services Blog



Review of 3 Popular Plug-In Hybrids Cars: Chevy Volt v. Honda Accord v. Ford Fusion

Chevy Honda Ford Plug in Electric Cars

Did you catch the Los Angeles Times’ article Battle of the Plug-In Hybrids? It’s a long one, so as your San Diego electric car charger installation providers and general go-to experts on all things electric vehicles, we’ve condensed the most important points here.

While the Chevrolet Volt rated highest in efficiency because of the electric-only range of about 38 miles, the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion came out ahead for high-end fit and finish.

Chevrolet Volt

Where Chevy Wins:

1)    Highest Efficiency: has an electric-only range of 38 miles, triple the range of the Honda Accord and double that of the Ford Fusion.

2)    Costs Less: base price of $34,995 for 2014 Models

3)     1.4 Liter gasoline engine to ensure range

4)    Decent engine power, silent and stable ride

5)    After the charge runs out, the gasoline rage extender kicks in, and gets 35 miles per gallon

6)    The engine charges the battery, which powers an electric motor that turns the wheels

7)    Best bet for getting your money’s worth over the long term. Also, has lowest sticker price of the 3 models.

Chevy Drawbacks:

1)    “Feels cheap” by comparison to the Honda and the Ford in terms of driving experience

2)    Cramped interior covered in cheap, shiny plastic with too many tiny, touch-sensitive controls. Seats are too cramped because of the large T-shaped battery positioned underneath, which limits available seats to 4.

3)    Battery placement of the car contributes to the dull exterior styling, with tall doors and windows.

4)    Windows, when down, produce unbearable wind noises similar to a helicopter landing on a roof.

5)    149 horsepower is substantially less than Honda Accord and Ford Fusion Energy

6)    Engine doesn’t always rev when you step on the accelerator. Sometimes it even revs at a high idle when the car is stopped.

Honda Accord

Where Honda Wins

1)    High efficiency, high-end fit and finish.

2)    Shorter, sportier, and larger than older Honda Accord models.

3)    Exterior styling is simple, with clean lines flowing slightly downward from the trunk to the front grille.

4)    Has 4 heated seats, a back-up camera and adaptive cruise control.

5)    The Honda Accord plug-in excels after the charge runs out, with an average of 50MPG.

6)    The combination of the 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine, and its lithium ion battery produces a high 196 horsepower.

Honda Drawbacks

1)    Honda built the car more as an engineering exercise than a sales leader, with hopes of selling only 1,100 of them from 2013-14, and only in California and New York. In August, 44 plug-in Accords were sold, compared with 1,152 plug-in Fusions and 3,351 Volts sold.

2)    Only gets about 13 miles out of a charge – about a third of what the Chevrolet Volt gets.

3)    The Accord’s interior consists of mismatched faux-metal trim pieces as well as a cheap-looking plastic wheel.

Ford Fusion Energi

 Where Ford Wins:

1)    Out of the three models, proves the winner in style and comfort, and it paralleled the Honda Accord in driving dynamics.

2)    Has the feel of an expensive luxury car with comfortable cross-stitched leather seats and well-placed metallic and piano-black trim pieces throughout the interior. Also, the Dash controls and entertainment system come in a simple layout and is easy to maneuver.

3)    Distinguished itself in quality and fit and finish. Also keeps out wind and road noises.

4)    Feels heavy when driven, retains stability over bumps with less feel and noise.

Ford Drawbacks:

1)    Ford Fusion proved to be the least efficient of the three models by a good margin, achieving 37MPG over a week of driving, along with an electric-only range of 16 miles.

2)    Has 195 Horsepower, a little below that of the Honda Accord plug-in.

3)    Many customer complaints about the low city and highway driving efficiency, only has 43 MPG.

Author Brian Thevenot concludes that the technology behind hybrids, battery electrics, fuel cells, turbos, hydrogen powered cars will eventually converge. In the meantime, the hybrid model aims to maximize the car’s range with a gas power option, but minimize the costs and pollution of gasoline through use of electric power.

Whichever Electric Vehicle You Choose, Mathewson Electric Handles Your Electric Car Charger Installation

When it comes to cost savings and personal attention, Mathewson Electric beats the dealers every time. San Diego’s premier electric car charger installers, we have the permitting, installation and charging process down for ALL brands: Aeroinvironment, Clipper Creek, Leviton, Blinq and more. We’ve had the privilege of helping new owners of the Nissan Leaf, Fisker Karma, Chevy Volt, Ford Max and Escort,Toyota Prius and even the Tesla S, get out on the road fast. Still contemplating the electric car decision? Feel free to follow our blog, our Facebook page or Google Plus. We review electric cars from time to time and keep owners up on the latest car charging stations to be added in San Diego as well as nationwide legislation pertaining to electric vehicles. We help you get all the benefits from your electric vehicle.


2 Reasons the Tesla Fire Video Shouldn’t Dampen Your Enthusiasm for Electric Cars

Most of us are used to seeing old smoking junkers burst into flames on the freeway, but a brand new Model S? Who would bring a Tesla to the “Carbeque?”

On Friday, October 4, 2013 in Seattle, the Tesla Model S, known for its premium performance, features and 85k litium ion battery, burst into flames. The event was captured on a smartphone and posted to YouTube accompanied by the videographer’s surprised: “Damn that’s a Tesla, dude!”  As of this writing, the video has gotten over three million views.

Tesla Motors Chief Executive, Elon Musk, explained that a chunk of metal fell from a trailer in front of the Tesla and hit the undercarriage of the car, rupturing the armor plating surrounding the battery. Sparks ignited the front battery module, but the The fire never reached the passenger compartment.Driver and passenger were able to pull over and exit the vehicle safely.

Are Electric Cars Prone to Fires?

  • No: Given the right, extreme circumstances, anything can catch fire. This Tesla S certainly was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at least it didn’t have highly combustible gasoline to contend with.
  • No:  Every year in the United States, more than 150,000 cars catch fire for a myriad of reasons.  Electric cars have a fire ratio of 1 in 100 million. Compare that to the fact that one out of 20 million gas-powered cars catch fire. This means that a gas-powered car is five times more likely to catch fire than an electric vehicle.

We all learned long ago that driving any vehicle is dangerous and potentially life threatening. Even the buggies the Amish drive turn over from time to time. Bicyclists take their lives in their hands when they pedal to work. These modes of transportation offer such convenience, however, we embrace the risk. If you’re particularly concerned about the fire risk with electric vehicles or electric vehicle chargers, feel free to call us at 619-249-6159 or contact us here. As master electricians, our knowledge of current and electric vehicles can help you make a decision.

 Mathewson Electric Has Your Electric Car Charger Installation Answers!

When it comes to cost savings and personal attention, Mathewson Electric beats the dealers every time. We have the permitting, installation and charging process down to a science for ALL brands: Aeroinvironment, Clipper Creek, Leviton, Blinq and more. We’ve had the privilege of helping new owners of the Nissan Leaf, Fisker Karma, Chevy Volt, Ford Max and Escort,Toyota Prius and even the Tesla S, get out on the road fast. Still contemplating the electric car decision? Feel free to follow our blog, our Facebook page or Google Plus account. We review electric cars from time to time and keep owners up on the latest car charging stations to be added in San Diego as well as nationwide legislation pertaining to electric vehicles. We help you get all the benefits from your electric vehicle.





Prepare for Your EV Charger Installation in 5 Minutes or Less

3D car designReady to purr out onto the freeway in your brand new electric car? Yes, it WILL be fun to laugh at the people standing at the grimy gas station in their suits and high heels as you speed by.

Installation of your EV charger requires far less than most people imagine, especially here in San Diego. Just read these tips below to start powering your car at home.

Step 1: Walk into Your Garage, Hand to Chin

Hmmm . . . just where will the car be parked? The charging station should be no farther than 12 to 15 feet away from your electric car’s connection port. Is the port on the right or the left side of the car?  Will you be parking on the right or left side of the garage? That’s all you need to know before you call Dan at Mathewson Electric to get a site assessment. We’ll do the thinking from here.

Step 2: Call for Your Simple EV Charger Installation Site Assessment

Let us get a gander at your garage and your electrical panel. You’ll need 240V power near the charging station and a 40 AMP dedicated circuit breaker on your electrical panel. We’ll take a look to see whether your current set-up is adequate or if you need some upgrades Together, we’ll determine the best spot for the EV charging station.

While these steps may feel like a hassle, keep in mind that the electric car powering costs and effort are mostly upfront. Once this part is complete, you cross the 52 times per year you go to the gas station off your errand list. Nice! After your EV charger installation, plugging the electric car in at night becomes as second nature as plugging in the cell phone—mindless.

Step 3: Hand Us Paperwork So We Can Deal with Any Permitting

Fully licensed electricians with 30 years experience in both commercial and residential projects, we know how to wrangle with “county.” We’ll get your paperwork completed correctly so it goes through fast. Depending on the neighborhood, your permits can clear as quickly as a day or a few days. The process can take up to a month in some  areas because of zoning and other issues. Either way, we’ll do the thinking, the calling and the negotiating for you.  In the meantime, we can make any upgrades to your electrical panel necessary to install the electrical charging station safely.

Step 4: Schedule your EV Charger Installation

With permitting and any upgrades completed, we’re ready to unwrap that brand new EV charger and install it.

Step 5: Before We Arrive . . .

  • Clear a path in front of your electrical panels and the spot we picked for the charger. Move cars from the garage and carport if need be. Give us 5 feet of room in all areas where we need to work.
  • Make sure pets and children will not be in work areas. Prepare family for our visit. An adult must be present during the EV charger installation.

EV Charger Installation Made Easy in San Diego

That’s it! When it comes to cost savings and personal attention, Mathewson Electric beats the dealers every time. We have the permitting, installation and charging process down to a science for ALL brands: Aeroinvironment, Clipper Creek, Leviton, Blinq and more. We’ve had the privilege of helping new owners of the Nissan Leaf, Fisker Karma, Chevy Volt, Ford Max and Escort,Toyota Prius and even the Tesla S, get out on the road fast. Still contemplating the electric car decision? Feel free to follow our blog,  Facebook and Google+ pages for updates. We review electric cars from time to time and keep owners up on the latest car charging stations to be added in San Diego as well as nationwide legislation pertaining to electric vehicles. We help you get all the benefits from your electric vehicle. Feel free to leave comments on all of those channels. We love talking EVs!




Ford Focus EV 2014 Review: A Test Drive in El Cajon

Ford Focus Electric Vehicle

A sporty sedan with great pick-up

The fully electric Ford Focus EV 2014 will give the Nissan Leaf a run for its money, particularly for drivers who prefer American-made.

Since the Focus EV just hit the dealerships in San Diego, I hustled down to El Cajon Ford this weekend to give it a test drive. While the basic model starts at $35,200. I was thrilled when the salesperson, Bobby, opened the door on a top-of-the-line model, which runs around $40,000.

I found the Ford stylish and sporty without getting too other-worldly. I personally think the Nissan Leaf looks like a frog. The Ford’s more conventional body keeps its electric power on the down low or more subtle, where the Nissan’s design seems to scream “look at my cutting-edge electric vehicle!”

As I drove out of the dealership I felt like I was driving into the future.  As a San Diego EV charger installer, I am in the lucky position to see everything from the Fisker Karma to the Chevy Volt up close.  I stepped hard on the pedal going up the freeway entrance ramp. The acceleration was amazing and it was so smooth and quiet. The suspension was smooth and the turning radius tight.

Ford Focus EV – Pricing, Discounts and Incentives in El Cajon

While the basic $35,200 sticker price seems high, the discounts bring out-of-pocket more into line, particularly with a lease. Combine Ford dealership incentives with California and federal government rebates and tax credits and the price comes down significantly.

  • Rebates from the state of California:  $2,500 mailed within 2 weeks of purchase
  • Federal Tax Credit:  $7,500
  • Sticker to drive in carpool lane as a single driver without fees

Bobby explained that with $3,000 down, payments amount to $260 per month for the $40,000 model I took for a spin as long as annual mileage stays under 10,500.  Warranty on the battery is for 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Ford Focus EV Specs

  • Body – Hatch Back
  • Size – Compact
  • Fuel type – Fully Electric and powered by 23khw liquid cooled lithium battery
  • Power143 hp an Torque 184lb-ft
  • Range – 76 miles on each charge (with regenerative braking to maximize range)
  • Top speed -84 mph.
  • Charging time –  under 4 hours
  • EV Charger – Aerovironment Level II
  • Price – $35,200 – $40,000+

Overall, I think the Ford Focus EV is perfect for city drivers who don’t need to haul too much around town. The Nissan Leaf’s trunk space exceeds that of the Ford Focus, but families can still get lots of groceries and/or boxes in the hatch back.

Any questions about the Ford Focus EV before you go for a test drive yourself? Feel free to ask them in the comments below.  If you’re considering a Focus, what’s the other car you’re measuring it against?  Don’t miss our post on Kia Electric Cars Heading to San Diego in 2014 and Subcompact Slapdown: Chevy Spark EV vs. Fiat 500E Electric Cars. In addition to our reviews of electric cars, watch our Facebook and Google+ pages for updates on lighting design, kitchen lighting, bathroom lighting and more.


Kia Soul Electric Cars Headed to San Diego in 2014

Kia soul electric carSouth Korea’s Kia Motors first dipped its toe in the electric car waters with its Ray, released only in that country. Rumors started recently by Kia World magazine (to whom we imagine Kia purposely leaks information) hint at an electric version of the popular Soul coming to the U.S., Europe and China by 2014.

We like the specifics!

Power Train:      Full Electric

Acceleration:     0 to 62 in under 12 seconds

Top Speed:         87 mph

Range:                  124 miles before recharge

Price:                     around $35,000  (competitive!)

All this power matched with the stylish body and exciting interior features tells us that the Soul EV will be a popular alternative to the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf, particularly for the younger crowd.

Kia’s Electric Car Charger Information Not Released Yet

While we don’t know the brand of electric car charger Kia will use yet, rest assured that Mathewson Electric installs all brands, sizes and styles of electric vehicle chargers. In fact, we’ve installed so many different varieties of car charging stations, a new version created by Kia won’t faze us.

Last week, Mathewson Electric installed a Voltec Charger for a Chevy Volt customer in the North County, a Clipper Creek, two Levitons and an Aeronvironment . We are San Diego’s preferred evchargerinstallers! If you have a quick question about electric vehicles, electric car charger installation and more, go to our questions page and ask away! You can also follow us on Facebook and Google + to get tips and our unique perspective on the electric car and electric car charger industries. Of course, you can always get questions answered the old fashioned way: the telephone! Call us at 619-246-6159.

Subcompact Slapdown: Chevy Spark EV v. Fiat 500e Electric Car Reviews

Chevy Spark EV Electric Car

Chevy Spark EV

If you are considering buying an electric vehicle,’s most recent newsletter has lots of great information. In their article, “Plugin Subcompact Comparison: Chevy Spark EV vs Fiat 500E,” the Fiat wins by a nose. Geared towards younger EV drivers, the 500e’s sporty look seduced the writer . While it also costs $5,000 dollars more than Chevy spark EV ‘s sticker price of $27,500, the 500e comes with a sunroof, a feature the Chevy designers sidestepped but the writer loved.

On top of the affordable $999 down and $199 per month lease rate, Fiat is also offering an interesting promotion: free car rentals. Under the Fiat 500e-pass program, all new car leases come with up to 12 days of free car rentals each year for the first 3 years.

Fiat Electric Car

The Fiat 500-E Electric is due to arrive summer 2013

Car rental companies working with Fiat are Alamo Enterprise and National Car Rentals. Chevy does not offer this. Considering that a larger sedan or even a truck would come in handy a few days of the year, Fiat’s free car rental promotion is brilliant.

The 500e takes less than 4 hours for a full charge with a level 2 charging station. Charging for the EV spark level 2 does not yet exist. Wow! The 500e gets 87 miles of range from a 24kwh lithium pack. EV spark gets 82 miles of range from a 21kwh battery. The interior of the 500e is more comfortable than the EV spark too.

If a subcompact just reminds you too much of a Lego car, stay tuned.  Tesla is coming out with a full size SUV crossover, the Model X.

The First Flying Car! And it’s an Electric Vehicle!

Flying Electric Car

Terrafugia TF-X

Wow. When we saw this we had to share.

It’s the Terrafugia TF-X, a four passenger “sedan” powered by propellers on each wing that convert from vertical to horizontal orientation depending on direction. In other words, the propellers are horizontal on take off and landing, similar to helicopter blades. Once in the air however, they rotate for a vertical oriental to propel the plane through the air. The propellers are powers by 16 electric motors and a gasoline engine recharges the battery pack during flight.  The vehicle will reach 200 miles an hour, and can last about 500 miles.

If you ask us, the consumer frenzy over this sedan-like airplane will make the iPod 5 lines a distant memory. The wings fold up so vehicle can fit into a garage. Also, Terrafugia insists that only 5 hours of training is needed before the average suburbanite can back out of the driveway and do the vertical lift into air traffic lanes.

Unfortunately, regulations and testing delay this super-gadget’s release for another 8 – 12 years. Imagine the government requirements that need to be met to make not only the plane safe, but to create infrastructure required to run a few hundred (thousand?) of these over America’s cities. The number of precisely-trained air traffic controllers would increase by who knows how much.

For now, we’ll stick with our electric vehicles, but the name Terrafugia won’t leave our minds anytime soon.



San Diego Electric Car Charger Installers Review the EV Project’s Latest Findings

If you’ve found this post, you’re probably considering the advantages and disadvantages of owning an electric car. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Energy is about 4 years ahead of you. In 2009, it started the EV Project. In April of 2013, it published the best takeaways from its four year study, a significant portion of which was conducted in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Read Lessons Learned on the EV Project and DC Fast Charging in it’s SlideShare format to quickly access the most important findings.

Those lucky enough to get in on the project early received a free electric car charger and rebates on the purchase of the car.  Don’t kick yourself too hard for missing out on this deal, however. At this point electric vehicle prices have dropped and the selection has expanded so much so that even Fiat and Volkswagen are coming out with EVs this summer!

So that you don’t have to read the EV Project’s entire 20 pages of data, we’ve pulled out the points that pertain to you the most and given you our perspective on them.

Chevy Volt

  • Avg distance traveled per day (mi): 40.5:  Makes sense to us: to and from work and maybe one errand.  So if you’re thinking of getting an electric vehicle, make sure it can last for at least 50 miles between charges. Also, interesting that Chevy owners drive 30% more than Nissan Leaf owners daily. Perhaps more urban dwellers who live closer to work prefer the Leaf? We’re uncertain on that one.
  • Avg trip distance (mi): 8.1  see above.
  • Avg # of trips between charging: 3.5  when refueling requires just plugging in, it becomes second nature pretty quickly. No more trips to the gas station! Keep in mind, too, that both the charger and the battery have automatic shut off capabilities so that
  • Avg distance between charging (mi): 28.2 Looks to us like people are just plugging in automatically, and possibly at charging stations at work given that the average distance per day is greater than the average distance between charging.
  • Avg # of charging events/day: 1.4  We’re surprised. We find most of our clients only charge once and overnight.

Nissan Leaf

  • Avg distance traveled per day (mi): 29.2  All of these stats indicate the Nissan Leaf people are driving less.
  • Avg trip distance (mi): 6.9
  • Avg # of trips between charging: 3.8
  • Avg distance between charging (mi): 26.3
  • Avg # of charging events/day: 1.1

Help with the Electric Vehicle Decision from a Certified Electric Vehicle Installer

If your electric car decision is hinging on the convenience and/or expense of charging, feel free to contact us at 619-246-6159 or contact us here. You can also follow us on Facebook as we go around San Diego, La Jolla and other neighborhoods checking out the new Fiskers, Volts and more!