Owning a non-Tesla EV in New Mexico isn’t always easy. Just four years ago, it was almost impossible to road trip around the Southwest with one. Since then, things have progressed more slowly than in other states. But, with two new stations opening in the last week, the interstate highways in one of the fifty that’s often missing are finally covered not only for Tesla vehicles, but for CCS and even CHAdeMO cars.
Being among the poorest states in the union with mediocre-at-best politicians leading the effort hasn’t helped. Electrify America came first, opening stations with several CCS and one CHAdeMO plug along I-10 between El Paso and Lordsburg and along I-40 across the upper-middle of the state. EA also covered I-25 from Albuquerque to Denver with similar stations, but then the progress largely stopped.
This left not only most of the state, but hundreds of miles of I-25 between Las Cruces and Albuquerque without EV charging that worked with all cars. This left the route between the state’s two largest cities difficult to traverse, especially if you were coming from out of state and didn’t start the morning with a full charge in Las Cruces. It’s a drive I’ve never attempted in my EV because it would have involved hours at RV parks.
Things finally started to change last year, when the state government finally started awarding Dieselgate funds for EV charging projects around the state.
Francis Energy stepped in first, with stations in Clines Corners and Carrizozo, followed by a number of additional stations around the southeast part of the state. Today, after a good chunk of these stations have opened, it’s possible to drive along US-285 from Santa Fe down to Pecos, Texas, in most EVs (this route is not covered by Tesla Superchargers, so this effort actually opened it up for all EVs).
Next, several other ChargePoint stations started popping up, with some in Roswell, Ruidoso, and soon more at NMDOT yards around the state. Most recently Deming got a second set of stations, meaning there’s now starting to be redundant stations along I-10 (an essential element in reliability).
It was ChargePoint and Francis Energy that ended up closing the gap recently.
One station that had been in the works for a long time was a Francis Energy station near Truth or Consequences. Next door in Elephant Butte, a small city situated next to a reservoir of the same name, a Fast Stop gas station completely replaced the building with a new one. This meant not only a nicer building, but more amenities and a nice place to sit for a few minutes. It even has a small restaurant.
But, problems with 60 kW charging equipment and a second round of funding to put in faster 150 kW chargers led to a long delay between the opening of the new Fast Stop and the installation of the chargers (something that has happened at many Allsup’s stations Francis has installed at, too). But, after a long delay, the new station finally came online around October 19th, with several check-ins on Plugshare since showing it’s working very nicely.
The next day, an even more delayed station in Socorro came online in the ChargePoint app. As I’ve covered before, this station was announced with a very questionable ceremony by New Mexico’s governor in July 2022. Press photos showed an operational ChargePoint station, which even said “Available” on the top in lights, and the governor’s press release said it would be open “in a few weeks.” But, when the ceremony was over and the pictures snapped, the station was removed from its fake base and taken away. It would be over a year before actual work began at the site on real charging stations.
As of this writing, EV drivers are reporting that one station there works while the other isn’t ready yet, but the ChargePoint app recently showed both stations online.
With these two stations now operational, CCS and CHAdeMO EVs can now drive from Las Cruces to Albuquerque a lot easier (assuming it’s not an older LEAF or compliance car that can’t go 75 miles on the highway). Sadly, Las Cruces only has fast charging stations at car dealers that aren’t open at night or on Sundays, but the other stations along the southern stretch of I-25 is at least navigable now.
Where To From Here?
There are still a good number of CCS and CHAdeMO stations under various states of construction in New Mexico, with many of them ready to go except for a utility connection that’s taking forever. Once all of these are put in, the “oil country” southeast part of the state will be pretty well covered, as well as north-central NM between Santa Fe and Colorado. Dieselgate funding will eventually even cover routes to Farmington and less-visited places like Des Moines and Columbus (a small town on the border known for being invaded by Pancho Villa over 100 years ago).
But, even when all this is done, there will still be some serious gaps in the charging network, even for Tesla cars. Rural communities all over the state are difficult to reach, especially away from major four-lane highways. the space between I-20 and I-40 west of I-25 has nothing. The Navajo Nation also currently has nothing. The “bootheel” of the state has nothing. Even US-180 between El Paso and Carlsbad (two national parks are along this route) has nothing.
So, there’s still a lot of work to do, and that’s something even big NEVI plans simply aren’t going to address. NEVI funds, even for future years, are only planned along Alternative Fuel Corridors designated by the federal DOT. These corridors include all of New Mexico’s interstate highways, but only two non-interstate highways. These are US-550 from Bernalillo to Aztec, and US-285 (the federal DOT site has the wrong copy-paste information about this, but it’s probably from Santa Fe to the Texas state line).
Covering all of the other little corners of the Southwest and other areas of the country that are going to be neglected is something I’m working hard to be part of the solution for, though!
Featured image: a screenshot from Plugshare.com showing the new corridor.
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