In a previous article that’s sort of a Part 1 to this one, I covered some of the awesome things that are about to happen in New Mexico. In short, the southeastern part of the state is going to get a lot more stations from VW Dieselgate settlement funds, and they’re putting the stations in at the best convenience stores New Mexico and Texas has to offer (Allsup’s). Life is good, right?
I don’t want to make it sound like we’re not grateful for the big EV charging expansion we’re getting in New Mexico. Anything is far better than nothing. That having been said, there’s still a long way to go and let’s face it — we’re just too poor in New Mexico to pony up the funds. With the exception of a few stations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, everything else in the state either came from Tesla or the Dieselgate settlement.
Even after these new stations go in, there are still some large swaths of New Mexico real estate that just aren’t getting the DCFC love they really needs. Hopefully charging companies with an entrepreneurial spirit and upcoming federal EV funds will help make filling these gaps a reality! If you work for an existing charging company like Francis Energy, EVgo, or Chargepoint, I’m going to give you a few bucks worth of free advice here. There are still some big gaps in charging infrastructure that this Allsup’s buildout isn’t addressing, and there’s money to be made bridging those gaps.
The I-25 Corridor Is Still Pretty Barren
First off, let’s look at the I-25 corridor. The I-40 and I-10 corridors are now mostly well covered by Electrify America and Tesla, but as I pointed out a couple paragraphs up, it’s still only got charging in Truth or Consequences, which isn’t really enough. Many drivers have to stop in Las Cruces and Socorro for an hour or two of Level 2 charging to make the trip. Adding DCFC stations in Las Cruces, Socorro, and Belen would make EV trips along this corridor a lot less difficult, and also allow better access into the backcountry from those towns.
Some Gaps in Eastern NM & Far West Texas
Going back into eastern New Mexico, there will still be a couple of glaring gaps once these stations are built. The obvious one is Roswell. Locals put signs up saying it’s the Dairy Capital of the Southwest, but the rest of us city slicker weirdos go to Roswell to see the hokey UFO museums, despite the fact that the alleged UFO crash site was closer to Corona. Plus, Roswell is a big stop along US Highway 285, so the “Dairy Capital” thing might be true. Another big gap in the region will be Hobbs. I don’t know any wise cracks about Hobbs, so I’ll leave it at that.
One other thing that would help a lot is to cover the National Parks Highway (US 180 between El Paso and Carlsbad). El Paso is really the population center for the whole region, and having a solid connection between it and southeast New Mexico that doesn’t require going far out of the way would be not only a big help to locals, but also frequently used by tourists and business travelers.
Eastern Arizona & Western New Mexico
Another gap that’s still largely unfilled is the space between I-25 and the Arizona Sun Corridor (roughly a line from Tucson to Flagstaff, where there are stations along I-10 and I-17). This big hole includes the Gila Wilderness, the White Mountains, and parts of the Colorado Plateau. While the population is sparse and conservative, there’s a lot of EV tourism potential for now and you can bet it’ll spur more locals to buy EVs.
To fill this Arizona/New Mexico hole would only take 10-15 DCFC stations along the main highways.
The US Highway 60 corridor roughly cuts the region in half from east to west. Stations are needed fairly close together due to the mountainous terrain. Magdalena, Datil, Quemado, Springerville (Round Valley), and Payson could all use some love. Show Low is about to get an Electrify America station, or I would have listed that one, too.
Going north to south, there are two main highways to cover: US 180 and 191. St. Johns, Alpine, Morenci, Glenwood, and Silver City would basically cover the needs along these parallel routes. 191 is especially popular with the motorcycle touring crowd, and 180 is the big highway to most of the Gila, with its countless tourist destinations like The Catwalk, Mogollon, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
One final route in this area that could use some DCFC love is US Highway 70 between Lordsburg, New Mexico and Phoenix (via US 60). Putting a station in Safford or Thatcher, Arizona (or maybe Pima, a place that needs a pants store, if only to make people laugh — Pima Pants, get it? Get it?) would be a great start. Next, putting a station near Globe would finish up the route. If you want some bonus points, put a stall in Duncan, Arizona to help the Harley Livewire owners out.
These 13 stations wouldn’t make things perfect, but they’d be a lot better than what the region has now (nothing).
The Space Between Las Vegas &… Las Vegas?
One final charging desert that is worthy mentioning in this article is the strip of land between Las Vegas and Las Vegas. Yeah, you probably know about Las Vegas, Nevada, but there’s also a Las Vegas in New Mexico along I-25. What’s more, the land where both Las Vegas’ now sit was once part of New Mexico.
Now that you’re thoroughly confused, and have hopefully broken out a map to find the other Las Vegas, I’ll be more specific and say that this big gap region includes Taos, New Mexico, Farmington, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the Arizona Strip. Once again, there isn’t much in the way of local population and wealth, but the potential for EV tourism can serve as a vanguard to fund these stations initially and help encourage local EV adoption.
The major highways to cover on this one are US highways 491 (the former US 666, the “Devil’s Highway”), 550, 191, 64, 160, 89, and 89A. Like the last gap, this one would only take a few stations to fill. Towns like Taos, Farmington, Chama, Page, and Tuba City seem obvious. Less obvious places include Cuba, Newcomb, Chinle, and Jacob’s Lake. These last few give great access to tourist sites like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Canyon de Chelly.
Some Final Thoughts
Altogether, just 30 or so stations (even if there’s only 1-2 stalls) would make a HUGE difference regionally the way the Allsup’s/Francis partnership is going to help eastern New Mexico. Tourists, people just passing through, and the locals would all have better options and be willing to pay some money for the convenience of DC fast charging in these charging deserts.
Featured image: Screenshot from Plugshare.com showing a big charging gap for CCS and CHAdeMO cars.