A conversation with Dave Mathews of Mathewson Electric is a fascinating bifurcation. The founder of this four-year-old company, based out of eastern San Diego County, is in a perfect position to assess the current state, and future prospects, of the technology related to electric vehicles. San Diego is an emerging market for the relatively new segment of cars acronymed as EV’s, and Mathewson’s business derives about 60 percent of clients from construction and remodeling electrical installation, 40 percent from installing residential EV chargers.
Mathewson’s official entry into EV charger work began in mid-2011, when he landed for his firm the exclusive contract for installing chargers for fully electric Fisker Karma Roadsters. Mathewson’s first such job was for Gateway computer mogul Ted Waitt. Mathewson has since worked with five different types of chargers and now averages two EV charger installations each week, with a typical residential job taking about 2 1/2 hours.
Mathewson is a believer in the future of EV technology, predicting an EV in every garage by 2020. He is enthusiastic about technological improvements to better the existing capabilities of lithium batteries used to power EV’s, and he is optimistic over the prospects for prices lowering for the batteries and the cars, as more buyers choose EV’s over internal combustion-only and hybrid alternatives. His view is that today’s EV driving range of 75-80 miles per charge will soon reach the 100-mile-per-charge threshold he thinks will be directly competitive with gasoline-fueled cars for utility. He sees the low-maintenance EV’s need only for tire care and replacement as another selling point.
Mathewson acknowledges, however, that the “infrastructure isn’t there yet” around San Diego for widespread road travel using EV’s, although he notes that the East Coast of the United States and the San Francisco area are approaching EV feasibility for general transportation with close-to-sufficient EV roadside service equipment sites, such as those provided by Blink and ChargePoint. Subsidies from governments support the companies dabbling into this new transportation energy technology sector, and purchasers of EV’s are being enticed by rebates from power suppliers (San Diego Gas & Electric, for example, offers rebates) and by open access throughout California for lone drivers to all high-occupancy-vehicle lanes on freeways.
Will the future for EV technology be as bright as Dave Mathewson envisions, even though the present is dim? Time and car-buyer preferences will tell.