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July 16, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology and Innovation: ASU EcoCAR 3

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University is among 16 universities chosen out of 100 applicants to be in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition EcoCar 3 program. It’s a four-year contest and students at the ASU Polytechnic campus in Mesa will work on transforming a Chevrolet Camaro to run on alternative fuels. Abdel Mayyas, the Lead Faculty Advisor for the ASU-EcoCAR 3 project, will discuss his group’s mission.
  • Abdel Mayyas - Lead Faculty Advisor, ASU-EcoCAR 3
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: technology, innovation, asu, ecocar, program, competition, students,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight’s edition of Arizona Technology and Innovation looks at alternative fuels. Arizona State University has been chosen to compete in an advanced vehicle technology program called EcoCAR 3. It’s a four year contest with students at ASU’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa, working to run a Chevy Camaro on alternative fuels. Abdel Mayyas is the lead faculty advisor for ASU’s EcoCAR 3 project. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Abdel Mayyas: Thank you.

Ted Simons: All right give me a better definition here, EcoCAR 3, what are we talking about?

Abdel Mayyas: Well, the EcoCAR 3 actually is a four-year collegiate engineering student program that builds on the 26 years of a proud history of affirmative energy advanced vehicle technology competition. Which actually gives the opportunity for the engineering students to be exposed for unparalleled experience, and deal with the latest automotive technology.

Ted Simons: And again, you mentioned the Department of Energy, General Motors involved in this as well, correct?

Abdel Mayyas: Yes of course, it's a partnership between the Department of Energy and General Motors. So it's established by Department of Energy and General Motors and managed by the Argonne National Laboratory.

Ted Simons: Now again, we're talking about an alternative fuel Camaro. Let's define terms here. Alternative fuel, what does that encompass?

Abdel Mayyas: Well, as dictated by the organizers, which is the Department of Energy and General Motors, is we're allowed to use the alternative fuels of the type of B-20 and E-85. So we're looking at electrification for the Camaro. So we are going to include alternative powertrains in terms of extrication of the Camaro. While maintaining its performance and the iconic and muscle car of Camaro though.

Ted Simons: Okay, what you said made exactly zero sense to me. What are we talking? Is it a fuel cell? What's going on here?

Abdel Mayyas: Well it's advanced and alternative power train and that’s in the electrification portion. So I don't think it's a fuel cell, I’m not sure if the sponsors will support this type of technology. But the, you know the, two types of fuel that I mentioned the B-20 and the E-85 ethanol is the two types of fuel that approved by the sponsor that we can incorporate into the Camaro.

Ted Simons: And the sponsor does have to approve?

Abdel Mayyas: Oh, yes, it’s subject to the approval of the sponsors, yeah of course.

Ted Simons: Now it sounds to me, correct me if I’m wrong here, the first year you're just simply designing the prototype for this thing, correct?

Abdel Mayyas: Correct yes, so it's a four-years program, it's structured such that the first year the students will do you know a virtual prototype for the design on how they will re-engineer that protection vehicle, which is the Camaro, into an alternative power trains. And the second year they will do the integration and the design. This third year it will be more refining. The fourth year will be just finalizing the product.

Ted Simons: And indeed to a showroom quality vehicle, I would imagine.

Abdel Mayyas: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Do you have to do marketing; did I see that as well? Marketing too?

Abdel Mayyas: Yes. So the participating universities actually have I mean must actually recruit teams, spanning many engineering disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, control and computer and software engineering, as well as project management, marketing and communication, as well.

Ted Simons: You know you mentioned the fuels that were approved, and I think some people will say well that's already out there then, what's new, what’s approved, what can change with this?

Abdel Mayyas: Yeah so this version of EcoCAR 2, we are branding new as Arizona State University at the Polytechnic school to the EcoCAR 3. So let's say actually it’s through that they add one additional component this time, which is the innovation. So in addition to the existing technology of you know alternative fuels and alternative power trains we will have actually an innovation part. So the team has to come up with an innovation in their designs.

Ted Simons: And as far as that innovation and that design and what you’re coming up with, is the bottom line -- what is it? Is it efficiency? Is it miles per gallon? Is it -- How long it can go without a this that or the other? What's the goal here?

Abdel Mayyas: So while competing with other participating universities, of course North America, our Arizona State University EcoCAR team will be challenged to design and build a vehicle that, when compared to the production vehicle, which is the Camaro donated by General Motors, will reduce fuel consumption, reduce the tailpipe emissions, the greenhouse gases, and of course maintain the consumer the consumer responsibility in terms of performance, utility and safety, as well as meeting the energy and environmental criteria, considering cost and innovation.

Ted Simons: And there were 16 universities competing now in this thing?

Abdel Mayyas: Including Arizona State Polytechnic.

Ted Simons: Yeah, out of 100 Universities applying how did ASU get in there?

Abdel Mayyas: Well it’s difficult to get acceptance in this program, especially for brand-new teams with no prior experience. However, our ASU team actually had an overwhelming faculty support as well as the infrastructure that in order to create top notch automotive educational program.

Ted Simons: So basically, and again, you've got to have an engineering team, you’ve got to have a project management team, probably have a marketing team, as well. You got to have a lot of teams out there.

Abdel Mayyas: Correct yeah. We have three main teams; the engineering is split into five sub-teams. Then the project management split into another several sub-teams and the communication, which is the marketing and the outreach team.

Ted Simons: And housed and managed at the Polytechnic campus correct?

Abdel Mayyas: Yes it is.

Ted Simons: Okay, out there I mean some things are going on out there and we try to talk about it a little bit here, but some folks kind of aren't quite aware. ASU has a reputation for like auto-engineering, it sounds like it's developing. True?

Abdel Mayyas: It is true. Our automotive engineering joined, still it’s about four years old, I joined this school two years ago as a junior faculty. However, this is our opportunity at Arizona State, at the Polytechnic school in order to promote or automotive engineering educational program. And actually see the ground in order to build and gain reputation as the top automotive engineering program in the west region, so we’re looking at that.

Ted Simons: All right. And if you win, or even if you don't win, who gets to keep the car?

Abdel Mayyas: Well, the schools I mean can keep the cars for further research, of course.

Ted Simons: Okay so no one gets to drive away saying I'm the king of the hill here?

Abdel Mayyas: No, of course not.

Ted Simons: All right well good luck. The project begins when August, September, somewhere along those lines?

Abdel Mayyas: It starts in late August in the fall of August, and concludes in 2018 in the summer, so it's four years.

Ted Simons: All right. Good luck to you.

Abdel Mayyas: Thank you so much.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Glendale Casino

  |   Video
  • The Glendale city council voted to support a potential casino right next door. Previously, the council had been against the casino. Councilman Gary Sherwood discusses his change of mind that led to the council’s change on the issue.
  • Gary Sherwood - Councilman, City of Glendale
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, glendale, casino, vote, change, issue, council,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to Arizona Horizon, I'm Ted Simons. The Glendale City Council voted yesterday to support a potential Indian casino on land adjacent to the city. Here to talk about why the council had a change of heart on the issue is the man who changed his vote and made the switch possible. Councilman Gary Sherwood. Thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Gary Sherwood: Good evening.

Ted Simons: What exactly did the council vote on yesterday?

Gary Sherwood: Really just a resolution, um there’s a Indian Affairs – There’s a senate committee meeting next month that was requested by Senator Flake and McCain. They had a lot of pressure to call on this. It's three or four different issues, but one of them is the Glendale issue. And prior to that we had a couple resolutions that said that, A, we were not supportive of taking that land into trust. And then we had a more recent one that said we didn't support the 1410 bill. And so what we wanted to do since the mayor was the only one who could speak on this, was we wanted to make sure that they understood that we were in support of this project now.

Ted Simons: The mayor is though, is not in support of project.

Gary Sherwood: He is not.

Ted Simons: And he will be speaking in Washington at the hearing?

Gary Sherwood: He will be testifying in front of the committee, he was the only one to request it to do so.

Ted Simons: So is there any indication of how he's going to present something he's not necessarily in favor of?

Gary Sherwood: Well he would have to state the city's official position, which we quantified last night. And then if he’s going to offer a personal opinion, then he has to state that he's in the minority and then he can state his opinion.

Ted Simons: What is the city's official opinion?

Gary Sherwood: That we're in support of this and that we’re asking the, respectfully asking the, subcommittee to allow us to finish our process, which will take place in the first part of August. We've done the fact finding, we've pretty much completed negotiations. And we go dark in July in terms of meetings. So we probably would have voted on this this month. So this will come up in the next three or four weeks and then we'll have our official position out there depending on how it's voted on.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and you mentioned the couple of the previous votes and previous counsel actions, battleship apparently was moving in that particular direction, slow but it was getting there, but you did change your vote, you shifted. Why?

Gary Sherwood: Well, I thought it was a shame that we had gone nearly four and a half years without any communication at all with the Tohono O’odham. You know I understand that once we found out that they had purchased that land under a shell corporation, maybe there needed to be a six-month cooling off period. But we weren't winning any battles you know with the courts. And the other thing is you know we have an arena and a stadium out there when we have these mega events like the Super Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, we don't have anything to hold people there and a casino that could get up there in 16 months and provide that. I mean there was a lot of development that was already funded and preliminary plat approved just prior to the downturn south of the stadium, and that would have gone a long ways in terms of holding people. But you know that's going come back much slower and so a casino can really inspire development in that area.

Ted Simons: Was there a moment, was there an aha moment? Was there something in particular that got you to change your mind?

Gary Sherwood: Well, some private meetings with the chairman of the Tohono O'Odhams and you know and I said there’s certain things that we’re going want for that, even though it's not our land, so it's kind of silly, kind of we’re demanding things that we have no control over. But again, they wanted to see this not stay in the courts for another three or four years so they were willing to bend, as well. And in those discussions found out hey they were very amenable to pretty much acting like a private entity. You know that they would give up sovereignty for our MOUs of various contracts and you know give us pretty much a lot of what we were asking for.

Ted Simons: Other tribes have released a statement saying you, in particular, you flip-flopped on this issue. And one of your councilmembers says that the city now, because of this position, has lost all leverage in those negotiations. How do you respond to that?

Gary Sherwood: Well number one, yeah, I did change my position but because I learned a lot more and got educated. And if you can't do that as an elected official or if you can’t even do that in a private enterprise then you're not doing yourself justice. So as I learned more and as I saw that we could gain something by this, then why not? And then in terms of losing our negotiating power what power did we have? I mean in face some of their council, some of their -- they have 24 members of their council that they are having to put this in front of after we do our vote. They are saying why do anything with Glendale now? We're pretty much in the driver's seat. So again the people we have been negotiating with, including Chairman Norris, they see the fruits of what we've been doing and their not going, I mean we're going continue on and it's going to be a nice partnership.

Ted Simons: Critics of the move say that the city will lose hotel business; the city will lose entertainment business. Again, valid concern?

Gary Sherwood: Not at all. In fact, all the businesses in that area, the owner of Westgate, the sports teams, the Tangor, they all want that. It's like when you put up a hamburger stand up, a extra hamburger stand up in a corner and the one stand is fearful of losing business. It actually becomes more of an attraction because now people have a choice. So no, all the businesses in the area support this, they want it. The Renaissance, the Glendale Renaissance, you would think that would be one entity that would have a concern. They are very much in favor of it.

Ted Simons: Well if all these people are in favor of it, why spend 5 years of fighting this thing? $3.5 million of legal fees, what was it all for?

Gary Sherwood: I could probably answer that by stating that same question. You know, I mean there were people that were just dug in and they weren’t willing to discuss this. So, you know last August and September we had a few meetings, a few of us, with the tribal nation, and learned what they were willing to do. And then we opened it up the day before Thanksgiving. I think we had our first -- not the council but we had our staff visit Arizona, and it did a fact-find, they had several more meetings on that. Then it went into negotiations and from that where we are at today, where were very close to coming up with some documented MOU or something that will secure this agreement.

Ted Simons: How much has this issue divided the city?

Gary Sherwood: You know you're either for it or against it. It's one of those emotional issues. It was somewhat like the arena deal that we did. We've been a very divisive council, anyways. We're a 4-3 council it’s just a different 4-3 depending on what the subject is. So but in terms of the town I think once you start, you know again, most everything's been in E-session type, so we really haven't been able to release a lot of details. I think once that starts getting out there and the project actually comes into being, people warm up to it. I mean there's been some extensive polling done. And depending on what district you're in it's been running either 80-20 or 70-30 in favor of it. So, and those are some expensive polls, so they you know have the 3.5%, 4% error rate.

Ted Simons: All right, well very good. Thank you so much for joining us and clarifying your change on the – But what's next now? What happens again now, something once you guys get back in session?

Gary Sherwood: Once we get back in session, we'll work something for the first week of August, and then we’ll have a voting meeting in the second week. And then there are some legal hurdles that they need to clear but they feel pretty comfortable with that.

Ted Simons: And make the position official in August?

Gary Sherwood: Yup.

Ted Simons: All right, good to have you here.

Housing Shortage

  |   Video
  • A new Arizona State University report indicates a housing shortage could be coming in the Phoenix area. Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business, will discuss his new research.
  • Mike Orr - Director, Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, housing, shortage, phoenix, arizona, research,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A new ASU report indicates that the Phoenix area could soon be facing a shortage of homes for sale. Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice for the W.P. Carey School of Business conducted the research. Always good to see you, housing shortage in the valley? What’s going on here?

Mike Orr: Well we’ve has a while where um buyers were lacking enthusiasm and now I’m seeing a period where sellers are joining in, they are not particularly enthusiastic either. So we've actually got fewer homes being listed than I've seen in the last 14 years.

Ted Simons: So basically the lack of demand is hiding a shortage even now.

Mike Orr: Exactly. We know what a shortage felt like because we had that in 2011 and 2012, and the first half of 2013. And unless we start to see a lot more listings come along, when the demand goes back to normal, we could be back into a period of very short supply again.

Ted Simons: Any idea when that could happen?

Mike Orr: No that’s the difficult bit.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Mike Orr: I don't think it’s going to be very soon, because there's not much sign of demand perking up just yet.

Ted Simons: Why is that? Why is the market so quiet right now?

Mike Orr: Um I think there’s two major reasons, one if it is we've still got a lot of people who were foreclosed, remember 2008 through 2012, 5 years of very heavy foreclosures, and many of those people still can't qualify for a loan because Fannie May, Freddie Mac, their rules are foreclosure means a seven-year wait, that’s seven years added on 2008, it’s 2015 so the bulk of those aren’t really going to come around until next year. So I think demand will grow next year. And then the other big collection of people who are not really buying homes the way they normally would would be the younger generation, the people in their 20’s and early 30’s. And a whole lot of reasons but definitely not participating as first-time home buyers like their previous generations did.

Ted Simons: And we talked about that in the past. Not the least of those reasons is maybe they have been scarred by seeing what happened to the market here in the last --

Mike Orr: I think that's a large part of it. I mean when I was in my 20’s home prices were going up very fast and everybody was desperate to get out and buy one before they got out of reach. If you’ve watched your parents go through foreclosure or other relatives go through a short sale, it’s a bit off putting that those nasty things can happen to you if you buy a home. So I think they are probably making a mistake, you know that sort of cycle we’ve went through is generally the sort of thing that only happens once every hundred years or so, not likely to repeat itself.

Ted Simons: Investors not picking up the slack?

Mike Orr: No investors are actually even fewer in number now than they were a few months ago. We have very few bargains available now. If you want to be an investor here, you've got to do a lot of foot slogging and hard work to find, go and find out a place that you can get below market price.

Ted Simons: But they are not buying, but how come they are not selling then?

Mike Orr: Well because they are renting them very successfully. We have very low demand for homes to buy but very high demand for homes to rent. Cause if the millennials are not buying homes, they’re renting them. And therefore being a landlord is proving to be a very successful trade.

Ted Simons: I would imagine then demand, rental demand, is up, prices up accordingly?

Mike Orr: Yes, rents are definitely moving up much faster than I've seen for the last 10 years.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Mike Orr: So that could encourage people next year to think about buying instead of renting.

Ted Simons: Again, as far as picking up the slack, what about the move-up buyer, the second home buyer, where are they?

Mike Orr: Again, move-up buyers not terribly enthusiastic. Many of them after all of the comings and goings of the last 10 years don't have a huge amount of equity. And the idea of trading without having a big down payment to put on the new home is not that exciting. So even if they’ve got to a positive equity point of view, it's not great unless you've got a nice substantial equity position to move up.

Ted Simons: You've mentioned to folks that had foreclosure problems and maybe waiting for that seven-year period to end, what else will increase demand besides from those folks maybe getting their feet back in the water?

Mike Orr: Easier financing. I mean that's one of the most critical factors in demand. It's how frequently a lender will say yes to an application. We've been through a period in 2003, to 2005, lenders said yes to almost every application. And then between 2011-2013 they said no to almost every application and everybody was buying with cash. It's starting to go back towards normal but it's still much harder to get approved than average over the last hundred years. So as lenders start to accept more and more applications, demand for homes will increase.

Ted Simons: Are we still seeing unusually high numbers of cash buyers out there?

Mike Orr: Yeah. It's not as high as it was but it’s well above normal.

Ted Simons: So basically, when that demand picks up -- and again, that’s the tricky part is figuring that out -- supply shortage is possible?

Mike Orr: It's possible; I’m not saying it will happen. Because we might see sellers come out of the woodwork, as well. But what we're not seeing is a lot of new single-family home construction. It's still very low compared with even the second half of the 1990’s.

Ted Simons: Does that construction increase once that demand picks up? Or is that market forever changed?

Mike Orr: I think it will increase but it can't increase as fast as the demand can increase. You just don't have enough people working for the developers to you now treble the production. It takes time to, you know, create a new subdivision, get all the permits and get building. At the moment the effort is building multifamily units to cope with the rental demands. So there's a lot of multifamily construction going on. Particularly up and down Scottsdale Road and Rural Road.

Ted Simons: And again, those are the glorified infill projects, are they not?

Mike Orr: Yeah. And they are also pretty expensive as well as rentals, they’re not really catering to the average renter, they’re catering to the fairly wealthy renter.

Ted Simons: So townhouse and condo prices, those are, according to your report those are up slightly, huh?

Mike Orr: They’re up slightly, not a lot of movement on price in the last few years -- in the last few months. They are still up from 12 months ago but most of that increase was quite a while ago now.

Ted Simons: That market always seems relatively stable, doesn't it?

Mike Orr: Yes, and I think we do have a stable market, I’m not saying pricing is moving either up or down over the rest of this year. They’re kind of really at a level which seems to be right for this level of demand and supply.

Ted Simons: Arizona's overall economy, we've done stories on how job rebounding in Arizona is not quite what it is around the rest of the country. How much of a factor?

Mike Orr: That's also a factor. If there was a lot of job growth then we would probably have people moving into the state, and particularly into Maricopa and Phoenix. One of the big things that’s missing from the demand right now is Californians. If you go back to 2004, 1 in 10 of the homes we bought were Californian. Now it's only about three or 4%. So --

Ted Simons: Why is that?

Mike Orr: Well, I think that's a hard question to answer. My particular viewpoint, and there are many others, is that from a Californian's point of view, when they look over the border, the sort of thing that concerns them is maybe we don't spend enough on education compared with what they spend. They like the idea of paying a lot less tax but maybe not quite as much less if they could have slightly more education. They have moved for their own purposes but they’re also worried about whether their children will be disadvantaged.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Mike Orr: They do however get a lot more home for their money so it's very appealing.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, what do we look for to see that maybe something is happening here and things are changing?

Mike Orr: Well I’m -- Right now I'm looking for the number of new listings coming along on the local MLS. You know I track that every day, and try and compare week with week. Are we seeing an upward trend or downward trend? At the moment it's still very low.

Ted Simons: Do you usually see something hit though once fall comes around?

Mike Orr: Usually listings are starting to arrive quite fast right now. An overwhelming demand, because the hot months are when not many people are out buying and listings start accumulating. At the moment that's not happening, it's unusual. That's why I think we need to sort of prepare ourselves that maybe, the supply could be quite low again next year.

Ted Simons: All right. Interesting stuff, good to see you again.

Mike Orr: Thank you very much.