Why Electric Vehicles? 

photo of many electric cars of different colors lined up and chargingElectric vehicles (EVs) produce lower lifetime emissions (even if the electricity is generated by fossil fuels) and have 60% of the maintenance costs, lower fuel costs ($1.35 per gallon-equivalent) and lower lifetime costs* compared to gas-powered vehicles.

EVs have fewer moving parts and don’t require oil changes.

EVs can easily accommodate the range requirements of most Americans (who on average travel less than 50 miles daily) and for homeowners at least, convenient overnight charging fills the “tank” by morning.

EVs will be even less expensive to drive as utilities roll out “time-of-use” rates and demand-response programs. For example, PNM’s 10 pm-5 am rates will “fill the tank” for about $3.

As battery range and charging networks expand and as prices come down, EVs will become more attractive to rural New Mexicans as well.

Technological innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are driving advances in cleaner battery materials, recycling and repurposing batteries for other uses after their 15-20 year-life span in vehicles.     *July 2023 Cost of Ownership Report

What is best for you?  An all electric vehicle (EV)? Or a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV: gas engine + electric motor charged by gas engine and braking) or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV: an HEV that can also be charged by plugging into electricity)? Check out this Wildgrid article to see what fits you best.

Want to try out an EV before buying?  Companies like Turo, Sixt, Hertz, and Enterprise have electric car fleets, making it easy to set up a rental.  Rental advice. Also check out EV Shows like those organized by National Drive Electric Week (Sep 22-Oct 1, 2023). You can talk to owners and take a look at vehicles. 350NM and other NM groups often organize shows around the state. Questions about Teslas? Visit Tesla Owners Club of NM or email: mark.hawes@verizon.net. Look for other NM EV clubs on PluginAmerica’s State Clubs Site. University Volkswagen Mazda in Albuquerque always has at least one EV on its lot; for questions contact General Manager/Partner Bob Cockerham at Cell 505-991-1891 or bob@abqvwmazda.com. Leasing is another option. PNM also has an Electric Car Guest Drive program periodically.
The largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S. is transportation. Ideally, we’d all walk and bike more, or at least rely on public transportation. But given the long distances many New Mexicans travel this is not always practical. By driving electric we not only cut down on CO2, but we reduce the pollution that threatens the health of 45 million Americans who live close to busy roads and transportation hubs. Widespread transition to zero emission vehicles powered by clean electricity could save New Mexicans $3 billion in health care costs, 273 premature deaths, 7,380 asthma attacks and 32,300 lost workdays by 2050.

Electric Vehicles 101

Driving an EV feels different. It is quieter. The acceleration from 0 to 60 is mind-blowing. Regenerative braking, which charges your battery, slows the car faster than coasting a gas-powered car.

An EV requires a change of mindset about fueling up – remembering to plug it in at night if you have a charger at home or having to stop more often on a road trip.

On road trips, you don’t usually run your battery down close to zero.  A good software system or app plans your stops so that you are charging anywhere from 20-80% of your battery’s capacity. Sometimes, at a fast charging station, the car is done before you’ve run to the bathroom and bought a snack.

Still have questions? These may help.

Worried about Range? For most people nearly all of the time, range is simply not an issue. Level 2 home chargers can “fill up” your EV overnight. Public, work and apartment charging networks are growing steadily, and apps will direct you to chargers, tell you how many spots are open and how long it will take to charge. If your battery is low while you are out, you can make it last longer by driving slower and turning off heat/AC.  Range is increasing with each new generation of batteries, but as these articles show, a lot of us don’t actually need as much range as we think.

Purchase Price. The average transaction price of an electric vehicle in July 2023 was $53,469  vs. gas-powered vehicles at $48,334, according to Kelly Blue Book. As more auto and battery makers scale up and innovate, aspire to federal tax credit requirements and compete in the market, EV prices are likely to fall sooner than expected.


Lifetime costs (purchase, fuel and maintenance).
EVs save consumers $6,000–$10,000 in lifetime costs compared to gas-powered cars. Assuming cleaner car regulations, a 2023 modeling study of future New Mexico adoption of electric cars, SUVs and trucks projects $14,000 – $16,800 in lifetime savings starting with 2027 models for urban residents and $5,000 (manufacturer year 2027) – $13,600 (MY2030) for rural owners.
Energy Sage estimates that nationally, it costs about $6.73 to fully charge a Nissan Leaf, $10.47 to charge a Tesla Model 3 and $14.51 for an Audi e-tron. Click on the Vehicle Cost Calculator below to see how an EV might save you fuel costs compared to a gas vehicle based on your driving habits.

There has been concern about sourcing battery materials especially from countries with child labor and poor environmental oversight. Some car companies are addressing this through the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, direct mining supervision and the development of alternate battery materials. Federal action and the growing market has sparked a rush of lithium mining in North America and the US, which ranks 5th in lithium reserves. (US and North America critical materials Reserves). Recently the world’s largest lithium reserve was discovered in Nevada. Demand for critical minerals will increase even without EVs as they are used in personal electronics (e.g, cell phones and laptops) and in nation security (e.g., satellites and missile systems)

However, it’s important to point out the larger picture. The amount of EV materials being mined is minuscule compared to all metal mined in the world, and the amount of materials consumed by a gas-powered car is 300-400 times greater than that of an EV battery. The fossil fuels industry extracts millions-of-years old carbon that is sent into the atmosphere where it is very expensive and technologically challenging to capture and where it causes global harm via air pollution and climate change.  EV battery materials, in contrast, have local impact, stay on earth and can be recycled, ultimately reducing demand.

Investments in recycling are robust, but even before recycling, EV batteries can be repurposed. EV batteries are not like short-lifespan cell phone batteries, because they have extensive thermal management to slow degradation from temperature changes. So EV batteries that degrade to 75-80% of their capacity (after 15-20 years, 100,000-200,000 miles) are being repurposed for home, industrial and grid energy storage.

EV Metrics and Terminology

Battery size or capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This tells you how much energy the battery holds.  The bigger, the better. A commuter car like a Nissan Leaf might have a relatively small battery on the order of 40 kWh, while upper end cars have batteries around 100 kWh.

Range is the distance an EV can go on one charge. The larger the battery, the higher the range, generally. However many factors affect range including the weather, topography and how fast you drive. Regenerative braking adds charge back to your battery when you brake or coast. In general, most charging stops on long trips are mapped out for when you still have a decent amount of charge in your battery, so you are not recharging the whole battery every time. These can be timed with lunch and pit stops.

Efficiency or Mileage in Miles per Gallon equivalent (MPGe). This is calculated assuming that the energy content in 1 gallon of gasoline is equivalent on average to 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity. A car that uses 33.7 kWhr to drive 100 miles is rated at 100 MPGe. Electric cars are extremely efficient, having miles per gallons equivalents of over 100, compared to gas-powered cars, which averaged 25 mpg in 2020. Newer gas cars are rated just shy of 40 mpg.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). A all electric car that is 100% battery-powered and needs a charger.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). A car that has a gas engine as well as an electric motor and a small battery. It cannot be charged by plugging into an electrical supply.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). A car that has a gas (or other fuel) engine, electric motor and a larger sized batter than an HEV. It can be charged by plugging into a charger.

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV). A vehicle that emits no harmful pollutants from its power source. 

Low Emission Vehicle (LEV). California’s definition.

eGallon. eGallon is the cost to drive an EV the same distance you could go on one gallon of gas.  eGallon=(mpg comparable gas car) X (average electricity used by a EV in kWh/100mi) X (Price of Electricity).  Assuming passenger car averages 24.2 mpg, 25.6 kWh/100mi for EV and 14.81 cents/kWh for PNM = $0.91/gallon.

NEMA stands for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.  NEMA 14-50 is a charging plug for a 240 volt outlet carrying 50 amp. Read more here.

EV technology, policy and incentives are changing fast.  A very helpful organization for information about financial incentives, EVs and chargers is PlugIn America.  Here are some other resources to stay in the loop.

Shopping for new and used EVs

Selected buying guides, car databases for sellers and buyers, and resources on loans, FAQs, trends and news.

Incentives for New and Used EVs

Manufacturer and other rebates:

Tax Credits

Updated 2/15/24. Assumes the Governor will sign the NM Clean Cars Tax Credit into law.

Combine Federal and State tax credits (and other rebates) for EV savings. But note there are taxpayer income limits, MSRP caps and restrictions on EV eligibility, as shown in the tables below.

  • USED EVs: In 2024, Federal and New Mexico state tax credits can be combined to reduce the price of a used EV costing less than $25,000 by up to $6,500. Search for eligible used EVs.
  • NEW EVs: Only three new EVs qualify for both the Federal and New Mexico state tax credits as of Feb. 2024, and they are very hard to find: Tesla Model 3 Performance, Chevy Bolt and Chevy Bolt EUV. Chevy stopped making the Bolt in 2023; only some specific Bolts qualify.  The combined tax credit is up to $10,500.  More new EVs under $80,000 are eligible for the federal tax credit alone.  Manufacturers who have not qualified for the Federal tax credit may have lowered their prices to compete.  Search for new EVs eligible for the federal tax credit.
  • LEASING: If the EV you want does not qualify for tax credits, consider leasing. There are far fewer restrictions on leasing and on used cars. You may be able to transfer your tax credit (up to $7,500; no income limitations) to the leasing company to get a lower rate.
  • TRANSFERRING YOUR CREDIT FOR MAXIMUM SAVINGS: Starting in 2024, you may transfer your tax credits at the time of sale to dealers who have registered with the IRS Energy Credits Online system and New Mexico. In exchange for your credit you will receive an immediate discount or a downpayment.
    • You are eligible for the maximum allowed federal tax credit, even if you do not pay taxes, but only if you transfer your credit to the dealer when you purchase the EV.  You have the option of filing for the credit at tax time instead, but if you do, you may not receive the full federal credit. An example: A $24,000 used car has a maximum federal credit of $4,000 (30% of $24,000 is $7,200, but the maximum credit is $4,000). If you transfer your credit to the dealer, you will get a $4,000 discount.  If  you do not transfer your credit and wait to claim it at tax time you will only get the $4,000 if you owe that much in taxes. If you only owe $1,000 you will only get $1,000. If you owe no federal taxes, you will get $0 for the credit.
    • Participating dealers will be able to tell you right away if the car qualifies after submitting information online to IRS. Make sure you get a confirmation of the IRS Seller report before you leave the dealership. 
    • You are responsible for determining if you meet the income eligibility limits. If you do not, you will have to pay the IRS back.
    • You still have to file a tax return later with Form 8936, the Vehicle Identification Number and the successful IRS Seller report.
    • The tax credits apply to manufacturers who sell direct to consumers, like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid. This buying process may take place on line.

EV Chargers 101

EV chargers come in 3 levels.

Slow Level 1 (120 Volts) is not a separate charger at all. You use the charge cord that came with your EV and plug into a standard AC 120 volt outlet at home. It is inexpensive, but slow, adding about 5 miles of range per hour to your battery.  To avoid tripping a circuit breaker you might not be able to plug it in at the same time you use a washing machine or other major appliance.

Faster Level 2 (240 Volts) charging stations (at home or at public charging) allow you to charge your vehicle overnight at home, usually at a much lower cost than using a commercial network (especially if your electricity provider has special time-of-use rates for charging during off peak hours). It is 5-7 times faster than Level 1 charging. But Level 2 AC chargers require 240V, which you may not have in your garage or carport. If not, this may require an electric panel and/or wiring upgrade. There are Inflation Reduction Act, state and electricity provider tax credits and rebates to help with that. (see incentives below). It may also be possible for the EV charger to share the circuit with a circuit splitter.  Chargers can be hard-wired in or plugged into an outlet.

The fastest chargers use Direct Current (DC).  These are found along roadways, like the Tesla Supercharging network. Charging speeds and technology are expanding as more cars can charge at higher voltages – the Lucid Air Pure can add 312 miles in 15 minutes, for example.  But not all cars are compatible with the high electric loads (Tesla V3 250kW Superchargers can have 480 volts/300 amps) of DC charging, and not all fast chargers deliver the power needed to ensure a fast charge. If you are buying an older car make sure you understand its charging capability and constraints. For new cars however, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Polestar, Honda, Kia, Jaguar, Hyundai, Genesis, and Rivian, Volvo and others announced that their vehicles will be able to use 12,000 of Tesla’s reliable Superchargers starting in 2024 via adaptors. After that these companies will build their EVs with Tesla connectors standard.

New Mexico’s map of proposed fast charging sites.

Be aware that charging connectors differ by vehicle model and region in the world.  Connectors had been converging towards two types in the U.S., the Combined Charging System Combo and the Tesla connector.  A Magic Dock adaptor allows EVs with a CCS plus to charge at a limited number of Tesla Superchargers.  But a growing number of companies are adopting Tesla’s connector as standard.  Originally developed in Japan, the CHAdeMO is a DC fast charging connector, which may charge some models in the US like 2011-2021 Nissan Leafs and Mitsubishi iMiEV.

Many factors go into choosing and installing a charger and the project cost: any charging rate limits of your EV, charger location, if your electric panel and wiring need upgrading and if you will need any construction work.  See the video below.  Incentive programs may also limit your choices – so check with your electricity provider and/or tax adviser first.
Here are some charger resources:

What’s involved in installing a charger:

EV Chargers – Financial Incentives

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center is a great place to start when looking for all kinds of incentives in New Mexico.
As noted above, Level 2 chargers require a 240 volt outlet, which may entail ungraded wiring and possibly an upgraded electric panel. This can be expensive, but depending on income level, some to all of the costs of buying and installing a charger (including a dedicated 240 volt line) can be covered by rebates and tax credits. For example, a very low-income household in the PNM service area can utilitize up to $10,000 in incentives towards an EV Charger.

There are growing incentives for multi-family housing and commercial charging in addition to residential rebates and tax credits. Because it is always less expensive to build EV ready structures than retrofit them, EV Infrastructure Building Codes have been adopted in New Mexico and could be expanded. Expansion of time-of-use electric rates, which provide less expensive charging during off hours and rates for low-income households will allow more people to participate in clean transportation.

Charge Point’s EV Charger Incentives for Businesses.

Clean Cities Coalition Network Workplace Charging Employer Workshop Toolkit.
For cities, schools, rural areas, non-profits, businesses, community organizations, shippers, states and individuals identify federal funding opportunities with this EV Funding Finder.
  • Federal Section 30C tax credit Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit now includes bidirectional charging equipment (can provide short-term backup power to your home; e.g., cost ~$4k for Ford F-150 Lightning), energy storage projects, and chargers for two- and three-wheeled vehicles. The tax credit may be retroactive to 2017;  check with your tax advisor. File form 8911.  Starting in 2023, qualifying property will be limited to property placed in service within non-urban census tracts or low-income communities. Check with a tax expert if you have to subtract any non-state rebates you received from the cost of the EV charger.
  • To see if you are installing a charger or battery in an eligible census tract visit the 30C Tax Credit Eligibility Locator.
    • For residential properties, the tax credit is 30% up to $1,000.
    • The commercial tax credit is 30% (6% if certain qualifications are not met) per charger including infrastructure upgrades and installation up to $100,000 max per charger. Qualifications include prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements.
  • New Mexico State Sustainable Building Refundable Tax Credit (SBTC) for personal or corporate income tax (01/01/2021 – 12/31/2027)
    • Basic minimum for EV Ready Equipment: 40 amp, 208 to 240 volt dedicated branch circuit.
    • Buildings less than 20,000 square feet.
    • Low-income: the owner or occupants of the building must have income equal or less than 200% of current year Federal poverty level
    • Residential (detached single family home) $500 for product and installation costs. $1,000 for charger and installation if low-income or affordable housing.
    • Commercial (multi-family and all other buildings) $1,500 for charger and installation; $3,000 if affordable housing or low income.
  • New Mexico State Clean Cars Tax Credit passed by the Legislature in 2024 provides $400 for an EV charger. It cannot be used with the Sustainable Building Tax Credit.
  • Rebates from electricity providers
      • PNM’s EV charger Program.  Residential customers can get Level 2 rebates (up to $500 for specific chargers (list updates monthly; Tesla chargers may qualify in the future); $2,500 for chargers and installation if you are low income). Rebate customers are automatically enrolled in low-cost, time-of-use rates (see below). Multifamily communities with 5+ units have rebates of $2,500/charger port and income qualified communities rebates are up to $5,000 per charger port. PNM also has programs for commercial customers, including public charging, workplaces, fleets and mass transit.  Find a PNM Program Authorized contractor.
      • El Paso Electric rebate up to $500 ($2,300 low income). Electric Vehicle time of use program.
      • Xcel’s EV Accelerate at Home program allows its customers to sign up for one of two EV charger installs (ChargePoint Home Flex Or Enel X JuiceBox) including a wiring upgrade if necessary and one of three time-of-use rate programs.  The EV charger rebate of $500 or $2,500 for low income (equal or less than 200% of federal poverty level) includes wiring, permitting etc., and an annual $50 credit for charging EV during off-peak hours. It requires participation in its time-of-use charging or Optimize My Charge program. Tesla owners will require an adaptor. Alternatively, you may rent a charger from that Xcel installs for $12/month.
      • Some Rural Electric Coops offer rebates (for example, 50% off the cost of equipment and installing a residential Level 2 charger up to $500) or even free EV chargers. CNMEC offers the former and also 50% off up to $1,000 for charger and installation (including panel upgrade) if you sign up for their time-of-use program.
      • Also look for incentives from EV companies, EV charger manufacturers, local government, Chargelab rebate finder, EdmundsChargepoint and Electric For All (utility-based).
      • Look for electrician ads.

EV Metrics and Terminology

Battery size or capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This tells you how much energy the battery holds.  The bigger, the better. A commuter car like a Nissan Leaf might have a relatively small battery on the order of 40 kWh, while upper end cars have batteries around 100 kWh.

Range is the distance an EV can go on one charge. The larger the battery, the higher the range, generally. However many factors affect range including the weather, topography and how fast you drive. Regenerative braking adds charge back to your battery when you brake or coast. In general, most charging stops on long trips are mapped out for when you still have a decent amount of charge in your battery, so you are not recharging the whole battery every time. These can be timed with lunch and pit stops.

Efficiency or Mileage in Miles per Gallon equivalent (MPGe). This is calculated assuming that the energy content in 1 gallon of gasoline is equivalent on average to 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity. A car that uses 33.7 kWhr to drive 100 miles is rated at 100 MPGe. Electric cars are extremely efficient, having miles per gallons equivalents of over 100, compared to gas-powered cars, which averaged 25 mpg in 2020. Newer gas cars are rated just shy of 40 mpg.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). A all electric car that is 100% battery-powered and needs a charger.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). A car that has a gas engine as well as an electric motor and a small battery. It cannot be charged by plugging into an electrical supply.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). A car that has a gas (or other fuel) engine, electric motor and a larger sized batter than an HEV. It can be charged by plugging into a charger.

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV). A vehicle that emits no harmful pollutants from its power source. 

Low Emission Vehicle (LEV). California’s definition.

NEMA stands for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.  NEMA 14-50 is a charging plug for a 240 volt outlet carrying 50 amp. Read more here.