By Caleb Jones

(February 17, 2023) – There’s a funny story about a man from Texas who liked to brag about how huge his ranch is. He told his friend that if he set off in his truck at sunrise, the sun would be setting by the time he got to the other side. His friend replied, “I had a truck like that once.”

We’ve all had a truck or a car like that. It sure seemed like that was just about every car I owned. At the Jones farm we figured out pretty quickly when Detroit gives you lemons, its best to just pucker up and figure out how to fix it.

I spent many a day (and night), wrench in hand, on the side of the road learning the finer points of repairing my “cursed” combustion engine. I learned how to think on my feet when I drove home using a fishing line connected to the carburetor because of a broken throttle cable in my GTO. I am positive my negotiation skills were refined having to explain to a police officer that my brake lights do work but only when the headlights are off.

As I tell these stories to my son, Max, I’m beginning to wonder what he is going to do when he starts driving in a decade and his electric vehicle breaks down. Will he get out the diagnostic computer and make the electrons flow again?

If Max is anything like his dad, he is going to find some way to put a little more pep in his electric ride for bragging rights on the neighborhood quarter mile. I bet my favorite catalog from JC Whitney will even make a comeback, supplying chips, gadgets and floor mats emblazoned with lightning bolts.

These fancy electric vehicles get a bad rap with most of my gearhead friends. They don’t like the idea of anything being forced on them, not until you can drive to Kansas City and back without having to recharge. They also don’t cotton to the idea that electric vehicles are going to save the planet — they won’t.

What I can tell you is electric cooperatives see EVs as a good thing because, charged at night, they help level the peaks and valleys that make delivering electricity to your home inefficient. As electric vehicles become more common I can see incentives for charging during off-peak hours.

While my buddy, Rusty, gets his share of grief for driving a “space car,” sometimes even from me, he is helping his fellow co-op members of Boone Electric Cooperative keep their lights on. Electric cars aren’t for everyone today, but they may be for our kids or grandkids. That’s not a bad thing. 

Remember this: those brave early adopters in their tin lizzies and jalopies had to suffer the cruel taunts of farmers driving by in their horse-drawn buggies, saying, “Get a horse!”

Caleb is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Boone Electric Cooperative.

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Caption: My association with lemons includes this “Campaign Caddy” that often needed a jump start.