RIO RANCHO — Driving home her point, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pulled up to Chalmers Ford Monday afternoon in a new electric vehicle, poised for what she said was to be an incredible announcement.
The “incredible announcement,” she told a gathering of about 50 in the Rio Rancho Ford dealership, detailed the new zero emission vehicles rule requirements for automobiles delivered to New Mexico by automakers in the years to come.
These proposed rules, which still need legislative approval, apply to auto makers, not the auto dealers or consumers.
These proposed rules, known as Advanced Clean Cars and Advanced Clean Trucks (ACC&ACT), are the annual targets and require vehicle manufacturers to deliver cleaner vehicles to New Mexicans and drastically cut smog-forming nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions from conventional gas and diesel engines.
For example, in just two years, 35% of the 2026 models delivered here must have zero emissions.
In 2026, that percentage increases to 43%, increasing annually until 2031, when 82% of the new vehicles must meet that standard; 82% stays in effect through 2034.
The new rules would be among the nation’s strongest vehicle emissions rules aimed at improving New Mexicans’ choices on all makes and models of zero emission vehicles while furthering the state’s ambitious climate goals and decreasing air pollution.
“The air is frightening,” Lujan Grisham said, and she wasn’t referring to any particulates from the massive Canadian wildfires soiling the air through much of the U.S.
State Sen. Mimi Stewart, who drives a hybrid vehicle, told the gathering, “Fourteen percent of total emissions in the state come from cars and trucks.
“We are seeing the impact of climate change every day,” Stewart added, aiming at reducing pollution, improving the air and improve the air quality and improve the health of New Mexicans.
“These new rules will ensure that all New Mexicans have access to a greater number of new zero and low-emission vehicle models, while hastening the transition away from polluting diesel and gasoline-powered cars and trucks,” said Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “We look forward to engaging with all New Mexicans on these proposed rules in the coming months.”
The hope is that EVs will be affordable and available for all New Mexicans who want them.
To incentivize consumers buying EVs, the state is investing $38 million annually for five years to build out electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure. New Mexico is ranked 16th in the nation for access to charging stations.
New Mexico was recently featured in the New York Times as one of five of the nation’s best EV road trips.
On hand for the announcement was Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull, who said he doesn’t have an EV or hybrid.
“We’ve been looking at hybrids and, perhaps, somewhere in the future (we’ll get) an EV. We haven’t made that decision yet.
“Obviously, it’s great to have the announcement here in Rio Rancho. I do know we’re seeing more and more EVs on the road here in Rio Rancho, and as they continue to evolve the technology, people are starting to adopt the technology more and more – it’s kind of the way things are going right now.”
It’s the biggest announcement Lujan Grisham has made in the City of Vision since her May 3, 2019, appearance, when she announced a $3.5 billion investment in the Intel plant here.
First-term state Rep. Kathleen Cates (D, Bernalillo and Sandoval counties) said, “Don Chalmers has been the leadership in our community for decades for many, many reasons – but this is not the only place you can buy an electric vehicle, not just in the state of New Mexico but in our county.
“In Sandoval, we’ve got Chalmers as you’re entering and Tesla (on US 550, near NM 528) as you’re leaving,” Cates said. “I have a hybrid; I‘ve only had it for a couple years … the hybrid is excellent (for me). I’ve driven to Phoenix and back; I’ve driven to Denver and back many times.”
Regardless of how people feel about EVs, there’s more to buying and selling them, she said. “My skin in the game is always workforce.
“I want to make sure that our trades are being developed, that we’re developing and investing in infrastructure at the state level and federal level. Who’s building the infrastructure? I want New Mexicans building it.”