100% “Charged Up” – a Q&A with Joe Ozegovich, a Memphis EV walk the talk leader
Joe Ozegovich enjoys sharing stories…from owning a Leaf to a Tesla, dodging day-dreaming drivers from 0 to 30 to saving $16,000 for his annual vacations – a win-win situation.
Q: We like personal fun facts about our EV drivers. Can you share with us?
A: When I’m not getting 100% electrically “charged up” by friends, I enjoy talking with people about EVs. My friends usually say, “There he goes again…” Yes, it’s true. I follow what I enjoy, which is being an EV education advocate where I can talk with my family, friends and colleagues! The best feedback I get when teaching is…”I never looked at it that way.”
Q: What kind of EV do you drive?
A: My first EV was a 2012 Nissan Leaf. Now, I drive a red, 2014 Tesla Model S 85 which has extended range, with leather seats and a sunroof.
Q: Is this EV your personal vehicle or a company car?
A: Personal and my girlfriend suggested that I name her Genevieve. I did. That was a good decision.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge about owning an EV?
A: Not getting a speeding ticket!
Q: Would you buy another EV? Is so, which one?
A: If it can fit in the garage, I’d buy a Tesla Cybertruck.
Q: What are some of the reasons that you bought an EV?
A: NO MORE GAS STATIONS! You’re primarily getting your EV power from home. In addition, you have other power sources to charge up your EV through solar, wind, hydro and other sources. When you own an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle, you won’t have those options, which is by design! With an EV, you have power source options. In 2012, I purchased a solar system which has generated 55 MWh of clean renewable energy which is then sold to Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Provider program. At the end of the day, solar becomes a great enabler which helps move us away from fossil fuels, and towards a more sustainable future.
Q: Is a Tesla safe to drive?
Yes! The safety standards are impeccable. There isn’t an engine in the front or back of the car, so those areas become “crumple zones” which provide better protection for occupants during an accident. The Tesla also has excellent performance and handling with an electric motor that has instantaneous torque, at all speeds. Imagine driving onto the Interstate quickly, while dodging the day-dreaming driver at an instant 0-30 mph rate. Those are the driving moments where having that kind of torque and safety is comforting.
Q: Your father provided some advice about supporting the local economy. Can you share?
My father always spoke about supporting jobs and the economy in the community that you’re living in. It’s important for people to consider where their products and energy are made. By buying an EV, you are contributing towards supporting Tennessee jobs and products. For example, my first electric car was a Nissan Leaf, which is now made in Smyrna, Tennessee. My first solar panel system was made, by Sharp, in Memphis which is my home town. Electricity is created domestically through the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). My father also spoke about being a part of the community where activism and education is important. I’m following in his steps.
Q: Are there any savings from owning an EV?
Does earmarking your savings for a vacation to Australia and Hawaii sound like a good idea? For the last several years, I have saved around $16,000 for vacation. That’s a win-win!
You can save money by…
- having better gas mileage
- less automobile maintenance since you have no engine, transmission and fewer moving parts
- no more oil changes, fuel filters, spark plugs, wires
- fewer to possibly no brake pads, for the life of your car, because of regenerative braking
Q: Most EVs have one unique character. What is your favorite EV character?
A: The vast majority of maintenance can be done remotely through software. The cool result is not just the fixes, but feature and functional enhancements.
Q: Have you ever made a long road trip in your EV?
A: Yes, several. Within two weeks of delivery of my Tesla Model S, in May 2014, my buddy and I, Louis Patrick went on a trip to New York to disprove the myth that an EV can’t go long distances. Louis had polio, so road trips were something that he looked forward to.
We drove through TN, through Georgia and then up the east coast to New York. Of course, we did a Nikola Tesla tour of Long Island, visiting the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, NY.
In 2016, we ventured out to Canada through Detroit, then drove to Toronto. We also went to Niagara Falls, which is a “must see” for the invention marvels of Nikola Tesla. As we traveled, we listened to an audio books and talked as we passed New York parkways, beaches and the famous Jones Beach bathhouses. Louis had never been to an ocean beach before. I was able to wheel him onto the sand to smell the cool salty sea air. Louis passed away about a year after our trip, I have so many great memories of him and our journeys.
Q: What advice would you offer about adding charging infrastructure?
A: Direct Current (fast charging) – Ensure to use the highest connector standards (CCS and CHAdeMO) for the various types of connectors to prevent unfair advantage to one type. Charge by the kWh, not time. TVA to develop a RFI card to quickly provide a way to pay via Local Power Company. Restrooms available at all times. Safety, like a gas station, one is in a vulnerable position, but for a greater period of time. Enforce any ICE blocking or abuse of Low Emission designated parking spots.
Corridor (primary or secondary) – Work with companies like AAA, to have portable rapid chargers for the people that run out of charge, as what happens with gasoline. Charge by the kWh, not time. TVA to develop a RFI card to quickly provide a way to pay via LPC. Level 2 chargers should have a minimum of 30 amps, 208 volts. Restrooms available at all times. Safety, like a gas station, one is in a vulnerable position, but for a greater period of time. Enforce any ICE blocking or abuse of Low Emission designated parking spots.
Urban – New code for mandating Multi Unit Dwelling have chargers available to the residents. Ensure adequate charging locations in all income areas
Rural – Currently, RV parks are great recharging locations, would be great to help them get dedicated EV charging locations.
Workplace – enforce any ICE blocking or abuse of Low Emission designated parking spots.
Home – Push for code changes in new homes to provide a 240 volt 50 amp service with NEMA 14/50 outlet in the garage. Also, design homes better suited to add solar, like having a good southern exposure and no shading.
Q: Are you a member of an EV club? If so, can you provide the EV club’s name?
A: Yes, Tesla TN Group and Tesla Owners Club Atlanta
Q: Any last thoughts?
Making solid change, one person at time, has huge rewards. A school teacher once told me about the solar system she had installed at her home. Her story made an impression on me, and today I produce more clean energy than I consume. I have a Net Zero home where my solar installation generates renewable energy, which is sold to TVA. The amount of clean energy supplied to TVA covers not only my home but the transportation needs as well. Today, a woman who had an interest in solar energy, sought advice from me. She later entered into a contract to add solar to her home. Investing time to talk with people about alternative options is incredibly rewarding. I’m thankful that I can offer this help to my community.
Joe Ozegovich has worked as an Engineer for FedEx for several years, leads the Sierra Club and serves in the Tennessee statewide DriveElectricTN AWARENESS Opportunity Area working group.
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