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There’s something about electric vehicles that sounds too good to be true — maintenance.

Oil changes, belts, tune-ups, injectors, fuel pumps and other recurring and sometimes expensive maintenance problems with the internal combustion engine would be a thing of the past.

There would still be front-end alignments. In this area that will be a maintenance problem for the ages unless and until a vaccine for potholes is found.

Not having to stop at a convenience store every few days to fill up would be good, too. Plugging your vehicle in every night for a recharge the way you do your phone sounds wonderful.

But there’s the problem of limited battery range, and that has me thinking the push for electric vehicles will be another of those things that divides our society. In this case it will be the long-distance travelers vs. the in-town drivers.

Last week my youngest son and I made an unplanned trip to Barbour County with a side trip over to Parkersburg. As long as we were in the area, we needed to check out a couple of things. The round trip was a little more than 400 miles.

The highly touted Ford F-150 Lightning pickup is expected to have a range of about 300 miles when the first production models are delivered a year from now.

That probably means a truck carrying no load and no passengers on flat terrain. What happens if it’s a work truck with four men inside and pulling a trailer loaded with equipment uphill is not something the hype addresses.

With existing technology, electric vehicles (EVs) are not suited for people here in this area who need to drive to Paducah, Kentucky, to attend a family event or to Myrtle Beach for vacation.

People in rural regions such as this need a vehicle that can make a round trip of more than 300 miles on one charge.

EVs will be a good alternative for people in high-density populated areas who tend to make long trips by air or rail or who do most of their traveling in short local trips. For those of us in the more rural regions, we will need our fossil-fuel vehicles a while longer. How long depends on how quickly technology advances.

About a decade ago, I encountered people who figured the $4 a gallon we were paying for gasoline would be permanent. They were hoping that would drive suburban residents back to living in high-density housing in large cities.

Thankfully, prices went down and that didn’t happen. But there are people who undoubtedly would like to see a good chunk of our personal transportation disappear in favor of boondoggles like high-speed rail.

Automobiles and pickups are freedom — freedom to go where you want when you want to do what you want; freedom to seclude yourself from others while doing so; freedom to express yourself in a big, beautiful piece of metal.

Some of us value that freedom more than others do. We’re the ones who will hang on to our fossil-fuel burners as long as we can.

When engineers develop a product that allows us to make a round trip to Louisville in one day or to drive to New Orleans in one day, or when we can spend a day moving hay from a field down by the river to a barn up on the ridge, then we can consider EVs.

Jim Ross is development and opinion editor of The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. His email address is jross@hdmediallc.com.

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