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New Mexico has low rates of EV adoption, but the state went ahead and passed a mandate

The median household income in New Mexico, meanwhile, is $56,420 per year. This may explain why less than 1% of the 650,000 vehicles registered in New Mexico, despite tax credits, are electric vehicles.

Published: November 22, 2023 11:00pm

New Mexico is tailgating California’s electric vehicle mandate, but unlike California, residents of the Land of Enchantment aren’t so quick to hop on board.

As part of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's green agenda, the state adopted rules that will require that 43% of all new passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks shipped to the state’s auto dealers be zero-emission vehicles by 2026. By that time, 15% of all commercial heavy-duty trucks will also need to be zero emission. The requirements increase from there, hitting a required 82% emissions-free light-duty trucks by 2031.

The state argues the move will save New Mexicans money over the life of the vehicle from reducing fuel and maintenance costs, as well as $62 million in health care costs from healthy air.

“The adoption of these rules is a victory for customer choice, our ambitious climate goals, and cleaner air for every New Mexican,” Grisham said in a statement.

Before the rules were passed, the state faced plenty of criticism over the proposal.

The New Mexico Automobile Dealers Association filed comments in option to the rules earlier this month.

The Editorial Board of the Albuquerque Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, panned the governor’s proposal in an October op-ed.

The average price of a new EV, according to Kelly Bluebook, is $60,000, which includes tax credits that likely hide an additional $50,000 in its price tag, according to one study. The median household income in New Mexico, meanwhile, is $56,420 per year, according to the Census Bureau.

This may explain why less than 1% of the 650,000 vehicles registered in New Mexico, despite tax credits, are EVs. Besides scarce public charging stations outside the urban areas, many of the state’s residents simply can’t afford the higher purchase price, the Journal editorial explained.

The editorial also warned the mandates could drive up the cost of gas-powered cars as the supply falls beneath the demand.

“Auto dealerships in Texas and Arizona are probably chomping at the bit while thinking about the windfall they could reap with New Mexicans scampering to their freer states seeking reliable cars and trucks,” the Journal’s editorial board wrote.

The editorial asked if EVs have such great benefits as their proponents claim, why are they so unpopular with residents?

Even the state’s employees have been reluctant to adopt EVs, despite having access to them in the state’s fleet. Through a public records request, Power The Future, an energy advocacy group, discovered state employees drove a total of 16.6 million miles in government-issued vehicles in 2022. Of those miles, only 36,077 were in the state-owned EVs.

Power The Future also discovered that between July 2020 and July 2021, the average fuel economy of the governor’s car was 12.65 miles per gallon.

Larry Behrens, communications director for Power The Future, told Just The News that the governor rejects EVs as much as the average New Mexican.

“New Mexicans are rejecting the governor’s EVs, so she has no choice but to force them on us,” Behrens said in a statement after the passing of the EV mandates.

Behrens said in an interview that, in advancing her green agenda, Grisham has also been loose with the facts.

Last week, the governor celebrated a study that found that New Mexico’s oil and gas operations emit half those of Texas’ per unit, which the governor attributed to her executive orders putting more stringent rules on the state’s oil and gas producers.

The Center Square, however, did an analysis that found that the study is flawed, as it undercounted Texas oil and gas production in the Permian Basin, the western part of which spills into New Mexico.

“Bending the truth to force her agenda on New Mexico’s struggling families is a key part of Michelle Lujan Grisham’s legacy,” Behrens said in an interview. “It’s no coincidence that she forces these rules to executive order because she doesn’t want to open up her bad ideas to real scrutiny. The final results are clear: Lujan Grisham celebrates while families pay more.”

Grisham’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

While Grisham has mandated the state’s dealerships sell EVs, there’s no guarantee that will get New Mexicans to drive the cars, if the national experience is any indication.  

Automakers have been pulling back from their commitments to expand their EV lines as a result of consumer demand, which hasn’t risen as fast as the manufacturers had planned. According to Business Insider, some dealers had to turn away more EVs as their lots filled up with them.

New Mexicans already have low rates of EV adoption. If the state’s consumers follow national trends, the state’s dealerships may just have to send the mandated EVs back to the automakers.

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