New clean car rules will bring more electric vehicles to New Mexico dealerships

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More electric vehicles are heading to car dealerships across New Mexico.

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board approved a new set of regulations – commonly known as the ‘Clean Car Standards’ – in a 3-2 vote. The regulations were first developed in California and have been adopted by 19 other states including New Mexico.

The new rules require car manufacturers to deliver more zero-emission vehicles to car dealerships. Starting in 2026, 43% of all new vehicle deliveries must be electric or hybrid vehicles. Only 15% of new commercial trucks must be electric. The requirements are scheduled to quickly increase each year before landing at 82% of new vehicles in 2031.

“This is an important step forward for our climate and air quality goals, especially in environmental justice and frontline communities,” said Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney.

Officials with the state’s Environment Department previously revealed electric and hybrid vehicle sales have increased to 5% in New Mexico. They believe the increased supply will push more New Mexicans to make the switch.

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

State environment leaders predict the new regulations will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 62%, nitrogen oxides by 43%, and particulate matter by 24% from the transportation sector. They say the improved air quality will also reduce certain pollution-related illnesses saving New Mexicans up to $62 million in health care costs – largely in Bernalillo County.

Many supporters championed the potential positive effects on the climate during public hearings earlier this week and encouraged regulators to approve the new rules.

“This is literally our Kodak moment,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande chapter. “Kodak knew that digital photography was coming and they didn’t do anything about it and hold only themselves to blame for not transitioning at this key moment. This is our early adoption moment. This is us becoming a national leader instead of a national loser. “

Not everyone supports the new regulations.

“You can mandate that manufacturers have to build EVs, but you can’t mandate that New Mexicans have to buy them,” said Carlos Garcia, executive manager of the Garcia Auto Group.

Garcia says electric vehicles only make up roughly 2% of sales across the nearly dozen dealerships he manages. He says car manufacturers and dealers are pretty good at forecasting what models consumers will want. He says it’s clear most New Mexicans aren’t ready to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“New Mexico is one of the largest truck markets in the United States,” he said. “There is not an EV truck that can do what a regular truck does, same thing for SUVs so it’s really going to be hard for us to have a stock of vehicles that people want.”

He says many customers are hesitant to purchase electric or hybrid vehicles considering New Mexico’s vast, rural landscape. He suspects many New Mexicans will travel to other states to purchase gas-powered vehicles that will likely be in short supply across New Mexico.

“We are 100% in support of the future and the migration to EVs, it’s just that this is too much too fast for New Mexico,” he said. “The market is going to dictate organically what people want to buy and what manufacturers can build, and so I do think that we’re going to achieve those numbers at some point, but the numbers at the beginning are just too high.”

Some state lawmakers also criticized the new rules, with several republican lawmakers speaking out during public hearings. Many said the new rules don’t benefit rural New Mexicans and noted a lack of electric vehicle chargers across the state.

Republican state senator Gregg Schmedes (R-Tijeras) also criticized the approval process.

“The unelected EIB has stripped the right of New Mexicans to make the best decision for their families’ transportation needs,” he said. “This was further proof that this administration has no interest in acting in the best interest of the people of our state. Instead, they only serve to further the political aspirations of this lame-duck governor.”

The Environmental Improvement Board is made up of governor-appointed members. Some opponents criticized letting an unelected board implement statewide regulations.

The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board – also made up of appointed members – unanimously approved the new regulations. That group also faced criticism for its membership during a recent Albuquerque City Council meeting.

Environment department officials say the state has already invested nearly $50 million in state and federal funding to implement new electric vehicle charges. NMDOT officials confirmed earlier this year there are plans to build at least 100 already in the works. The governor says she is planning to ask state lawmakers for another $55 million during the upcoming legislative session to build a statewide network of electric vehicle chargers.