At a recent event, the State of New Mexico not only showed off a very important new EV charging station, but they kicked off a round of EV charging station construction that’s going to make a big difference for the state’s residents and people passing through.
A Key Interstate Will Now Have Non-Tesla EV Charging
The little town of Socorro, New Mexico, isn’t known for much. For most travelers, all they’ll see of the area is a restaurant and/or a hotel. The town could phase out of our reality and into a parallel reality, and most people wouldn’t notice. To understand why it’s a big deal to get a charging station there, we have to look at some EV history.
Like many places, Tesla’s supercharger network came along years before stations for other vehicles showed up along major highways. Outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, there just weren’t any rapid charging stations for CCS or CHAdeMO cars, and even in those larger cities, the ones they had were often broken. Long trips weren’t impossible with shorter-range EVs, but they weren’t very pleasant at all.
Electrify America came along and changed that in a big way. Along Interstate 40 and Interstate 10, stations went in where there weren’t any stations for hundreds of miles. It didn’t make it possible for all EVs to make interstate trips (compliance cars with limited range and cars without liquid cooling still weren’t up to the task), but for most EVs that had greater than 200 miles of range, things were much better. Regional trips and then even coast-to-coast travels became a reality.
But, I-10 and I-40 aren’t the only big highways in New Mexico. If you’re going from El Paso to Albuquerque, or from Albuquerque to Denver, you’ll rely pretty heavily on I-25. Electrify America added stations to I-25 north of Albuquerque, but everything from Las Cruces (the town where I-10 and I-25 meet) up to Albuquerque was still an EV dead zone. Tesla owners got a station in Truth or Consequences, but everyone else was out of luck.
Not only did this make trips from city to city problematic with an EV, but it also made it tough for locals to seriously consider one (if they could afford it). Even with home charging, having no stations along I-25 meant you’re basically restricted to a circle with a radius that’s half of an EV’s range, and then subtract some more for 80 MPH freeway speeds and hills/mountains.
But, change continued after a lull in charging station construction. After Electrify America came through, nothing happened for a couple of years. But, Dieselgate money didn’t only get spent on VW’s subsidiary network. Millions went to state governments, including New Mexico. When New Mexico got its money, the state spent a good chunk of it on more EV charging stations at the popular Allsup’s chain of convenience stores.
Not only did this mean New Mexicans and West Texans could get a good snack to go with their EV charging (Allsup’s is famous for its little fried burritos), but this also meant a lot more stations would go in around the region. Southeastern New Mexico, known for its oil, is soon going to have a pair of CCS rapid chargers in most of the towns.
The Dieselgate money also went for a few stations in other parts of the state, with perhaps the most important one being the one under construction right now in Elephant Butte, a small city right next to Truth or Consequences and I-25. While a little bit further off the highway than most EV charging stations, it’s still a great place for people to stop and charge when taking that trip.
One other gap in the I-25 corridor was also recently filled in Las Cruces. The nearest stations were both 50+ miles away along I-10, but at least two car dealers now have rapid charging available. So, now people getting on I-25 from I-10 can get a good charge and they’ll soon be able to get another charge 75 miles up the road next to T or C.
This left I-25 with just one charging gap: Socorro. And, the governor recently unveiled a new station that’s about to open to the public.
While not listed on Chargepoint’s website, videos of the station on Albuquerque media websites showed that it has CCS and CHAdeMO ports, so even people taking a LEAF out on the open road can still take advantage of the better charging availability. Once that’s operational, a trip from El Paso to Albuquerque will be possible even on most shorter range EVs.
More Stations Are Coming
It turns out that New Mexico is just getting started putting in more stations.
According to an AP article and the Governor’s Facebook post, the state is spending $10 million stations of state funds to build more like the one in Socorro, and then they’re getting another $38 million from last year’s Infrastructure Bill.
“New Mexico has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make truly transformative investments in communities large and small around our state,” the governor said.
Specific locations for upcoming stations with these new funding sources aren’t yet announced, we do know that most of the money comes with a requirement that it be spent on interstate highway corridors first. An interstate is not considered completely covered under the infrastructure bill until there are:
- Gaps of no more than 50 miles between chargers, and chargers within a mile of the interstate
- At least four 150 kW or higher rate chargers, with CCS connectors
- Ability to simultaneously charge four vehicles at that rate or greater
Exceptions are available for any of these requirements on a case-by-case basis (unavailability of electricity, etc.), but funding can be used to prepare a site for stations by adding power generating capacity, etc. So, on the most remote stretches, it’s possible for a state to use solar power and battery storage if they’re serious about getting charging into an area.
Thanks to Electrify America and prior spending from Dieselgate funds, the state is already well on its way to meeting that requirement. Stations will need to be added between the EA stations, and they’ll also need to add stations to existing sites that can’t charge four vehicles.
But, this means that there will probably be a good chunk of money left over for New Mexico’s rural state highways around the state.
Featured image by New Mexico Governor’s Office via Facebook.
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