Long-time readers will remember a crazy trip I took back in 2019. At the time, there were very few charging stations in New Mexico and Arizona, especially for non-Tesla EVs. My Nissan LEAF struggled with not only that, but the Rapidgate issue, and that’s even in the spring when the Southwest isn’t very hot. But, things have changed a lot in the Southwest, and I wanted to write an article showing how much things improved.
In New Mexico, one of the biggest contributors to improvement was Francis Energy. As I’ve written about before, that company had a lot of problems expanding into New Mexico over the last few years. The big problem there was COVID-related supply chain issues, followed by bad experiences with earlier models of charging hardware (akin to what Electrify America has experienced). So, Francis had to re-do their plans for New Mexico, get additional funding for faster, more reliable chargers, and then get them put in.
In 2023, a number of key chargers were put in that benefit everybody. In southeast New Mexico, there aren’t even Tesla Superchargers, so these have been a huge help to all EV drivers. Artesia, Roswell, Hobbs, and Vaughn were particularly helpful, and there are still some stations coming soon for 2024 that will fill in more gaps along the way.
Another key corridor Francis helped open up was I-25 south of Albuquerque. It wasn’t until this year that this stretch of road got any CCS or CHAdeMO charging. Francis finally put in a station in Truth or Consequences, and the State of New Mexico finally got long-promised chargers in Socorro. These open up not only the corridor, but also highways to the east and west of the interstate. Tourist sites like the Very Large Array are now easier to get to with all EVs.
New Mexico also got some key redundant stations in Deming and Roswell that were put in by NMDOT. These are four-stall ChargePoint builds that have nice roof structures over them. Several other Dieselgate-funded stations have also gone in around the state on NMDOT property.
Just in the last couple of days, a new station also popped up in Farmington, finally bringing some much-needed relief to the northwest part of the state. It sucks that it’s only 50 kW and at a car dealer, but it’s better than nothing and some better ones are going to open up soon at a state property.
2023 was also a great year for non-Tesla EV charging in Arizona.
One major improvement away from the Interstates has been APS-branded Electrify Commercial chargers installed around the state. Some of these opened up in 2022, but several of them opened up just this year. These have made it easy to reach nearly all of the state in EVs, including some places that were tough to get to with a Tesla. One particularly awesome thing (at least for me) that’s opened up is the ability to take a back-road between El Paso and Phoenix, avoiding the most boring parts of I-10.
One of the coolest things that happened was that Electrify America finally put in charging for other EVs in Tusayan, just south of the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. This is not only an important tourist site for the state, but also gives people an opportunity to travel to more parts of the Navajo Nation.
Finally, the Rivian Adventure Network is also making a big impact. Several key places, even along interstates are now covered and should soon be open to all EVs.
Utah and Colorado
Most people consider at least the southern stretches of Utah and Colorado to be part of the Southwest. Some progress has been made there, too.
One big story was that Moab, Utah finally got some charging mojo back. Tesla has been there for a while, and even has a second site, but the lone one-stall CCS station in town was starting to get busy. Then, there was a big flood in 2022 and it broke. Then, it never got repaired.
Tesla was cool enough to add Magic Dock to one of the stations, which opened the town back up for CCS vehicles. The owner of the previous station, Rocky Mountain Power, plans to install a new station using Electrify Commercial equipment, so there’s soon going to be some serious EV charging availability in the town again.
Another big improvement happened in Southern Colorado. The state operated several ChargePoint stations that were kind of slow. But, they went through and upgraded stations all along the southwest end of the state. Now there are far fewer problems and a lot more speed going through.
Still A Lot Of Room For Improvement
While a lot of progress has been made, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
Far west Texas still needs a lot of help. I-10 is covered, but roads stretching down to the Big Bend and up into New Mexico are EV dead zones. Even a few strategically-placed EV charging stations would make a big difference.
New Mexico still has a big gap at the western end of the state. US-180 has no EV charging and no known plans for any. It’s not NEVI-eligible, either. US-60 is in the same boat. Those routes might not seem important on the surface, but they’re great shortcuts between popular places and there are a few gems out there, like The Catwalk and VLA (among others).
Another dead zone with no plans is basically the whole Navajo Nation. States and the federal government are doing what they usually do, and ignore the place as much as they can get away with.
While the South Rim of the Grand Canyon got some DCFC love, the North Rim isn’t going to get anything for a long, long time. The route to it is neglected, as it passes through Navajo territory, but other key spots like Jacob’s Lake could use some help.
Finally, the southeast part of Arizona is dead with little planned to help. Safford, Arizona has a pretty decent population, but nothing including NEVI will add charging there. The same is true for border towns, like Douglas. These towns aren’t along the interstate, but they’re going to miss out on travelers as EVs grow in popularity.
But, despite these gaps, there’s still a lot to be thankful for as we reach the end of the year. Not long ago, it was far worse.
Featured image: a screenshot from Plugshare.com.
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