If the scam watchers have told us once, they’ve told us a thousand times: If it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is.
This week, unelected regulators will consider California-style rules that would dramatically limit the availability of time-tested internal combustion gasoline cars in New Mexico.
The unfunded mandates proposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and to be jointly considered by her hand-picked Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board that’s appointed by city and county leaders would require automakers to meet strict quotas for electric and hybrid vehicles sent to New Mexico for sale.
Starting with 2027 models, 43% of new cars and trucks sent here would have to meet California vehicle emission standards and requirements. The Advanced Clean Cars and Advanced Clean Truck mandates leap to 82% for 2032 models.
If approved and implemented by future governors — because this governor’s tenure of mandates and emergency orders will finally end in December 2026 — only a fraction of new cars and trucks available at New Mexico dealerships in a decade will be gasoline- or diesel-powered. That will likely, and perhaps intentionally, drive up the costs of traditional vehicles in New Mexico because of their limited supplies.
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.
Currently, fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for less than 1% of the 650,000 registered vehicles in New Mexico, despite federal tax credits and EV maker subsidies. That’s not surprising. Publicly available charging stations are concentrated in urban areas and are practically non-existent in rural areas, distances between cities and towns are vast and frequently involve changes in elevation, and EVs are too expensive for most New Mexicans.
Nonetheless, a full-court press for EVs is on here in New Mexico, reminiscent of the federal government’s unsuccessful push to impose the metric system upon us in the 1970s. Few New Mexicans may be EV owners, but EV proponents have a well-organized and out-sized voice. A large portion of letters and guest column submissions to the Journal in recent weeks have been from proponents of EVs, extolling their virtues.
From these proponents, we hear about their impact on air quality, their fuel cost savings, their quick acceleration performance, their maintenance advantages over traditional vehicles, and their health benefits.
What we don’t hear is about there being only one public EV charging station in Española, at the local electric cooperative, that’s available only during business hours on weekdays.
We don’t hear about the limited range of EVs, especially in mountainous areas.
We don’t hear about the high propensity of current EV owners who also own a standard vehicle and use it more often than their virtue-signaling EV parked in their two-car garage.
We don’t hear about how state law prohibits direct-to-consumer car sales and how Tesla had to locate dealerships on the Nambé and Santa Ana pueblos to sell its EVs.
And we haven’t heard a peep about the governor’s motorcade fleet transitioning to electric vehicles. That would seem like a good place to start. Until EVs are good enough for our governor for something other than a photo-op at a news conference, they shouldn’t be crammed down the throats of the other 99.999953% of us.
If EVs have so many benefits, why are they so unpopular with ordinary New Mexicans? According to the data, most EVs in New Mexico are owned by people in Albuquerque and Santa Fe who make six-figure incomes. The vast majority of New Mexico has zero to one registered EV.
That’s because New Mexicans want and need affordable passenger vehicles capable of traveling long distances, and trucks capable of hauling big loads.
Who other than the Santa Fe-elite look to California and say, “Yeah, that’s how we should be doing things here.” Government mandates and tax rebates wouldn’t be necessary if people actually wanted EVs. They’d sell themselves. People would be snatching them up from auto dealerships and they wouldn’t be piling up at stockyards in China.
The Environmental Improvement Board and the Air Quality Control Board should heed the concerns being raised by New Mexicans and reject the California standards and let New Mexicans live and travel freely. We have greater concerns here than banning gas stoves, plastic bags and the internal combustion engine.
Electric vehicles certainly have their place in the new car marketplace. Presently, it’s less than 1% in New Mexico. The growth in the EV market will hinge on their practicality and affordability and the free-market choices of consumers, not government mandates.
The current minimal utilization of EVs will grow when charging stations are readily accessible and the prices of EVs are comparable with standard vehicles, even without state and federal tax rebates. That’s how markets work in a free enterprise system. We need a viable path to EVs that the public supports. We’re nowhere near that yet.
Mandating EVs is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. If approved now, a practical governor in the future — maybe one who actually uses an EV — will have to scale back the mandates. They are simply unattainable now.
Those concerned about the unfunded mandates should attend the EIB’s public hearings Monday and Tuesday at the State Bar of New Mexico at 5121 Masthead St. NE, Albuquerque, and counter the well-organized and well-funded EV proponents (who will likely be easy to recognize wearing brightly colored, matching T-shirts); send written comments to: https://nmed.commentinput.com/?id=TuMmsArBj by Nov. 20; and contact their member of Congress.
There doesn’t seem to be any point in contacting state lawmakers, who long ago acquiesced their regulatory powers to the governor, allowing her to again go it alone through executive action.
There’s a lot riding on these meetings this week, from the future of the New Mexico auto market to how freely we are able to live and travel.
Like they always say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.