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Israel Behind The Wheel

Ten years from now, there will be as much technology in your car as there is on your phone or computer. In fact, cars are quickly becoming smart phones on wheels. And Israel is driving this wave of innovation. The odds are, you probably never thought of Israel as a focal point for the automotive industry, but you should think again.

Like many other industries, the Start Up nation has been producing cutting-edge technology for the automotive industry and the world is starting to take notice. Everyone knows about Waze, the Israeli maps technology that was bought by Google in 2013 for $1.3 billion. This past March, Israeli company Mobileye, makers of autonomous vehicle technology, was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion. The Israeli smart transportation industry has only grown over the past few years. Since 2013, the industry has attracted $4 billion in investment and startups have grown from a mere 87 to over 500 today. Israel even has a special initiative devoted to the field: The Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility initiative in the Prime Minister’s office. Launched in 2011, the Initiative is Israel’s program for alternative fuels and means of transportation. It aims to establish Israel as a center of know-how and industry in this sector.

While Israel has a staggering amount of start ups devoted to the automotive field, there is no real automotive industry in Israel. There no car manufacturers or companies making parts, which makes organizations like DRIVE a real necessity. DRIVE is a new smart mobility innovation center in Tel Aviv and it was founded by the Mayer Group which is known as a local importer and transportation supplier. Founded by entrepreneur (and Conexx Vice Chairman) Tal Cohen, Boaz Mamo, who currently serves as the CEO, and Omer Shachar, DRIVE helps start ups and entrepreneurs in the automotive field navigate the world of transportation. They help them understand how it works and connect them with other business people and companies who have experience and the network they need to succeed.

Israeli HiTech Meets Motor City
It is no surprise to many that Israel is making waves in, of all industries, the automotive industry. Israel possesses one of the most cutting-edge, fluid and constantly innovating hi tech sectors in the world, particularly in sectors like cyber security and information technology (IT). This recent boon is just a matter of perfect match-making: Israeli IT with the automotive industry. Like so many other sectors, Israel’s smart transportation industry was born out of experience and know-how, mainly from the military. Many of Israel’s startups come from veterans of military intelligence and security units.

Smart Cars Require Smart Technology
With cars becoming more technologically advanced, more technology is required to keep the car safe. Just like your smart phone and computer, cars can be hacked and compromised, so protections are required to keep not only the car safe, but the driver and passengers as well. Technology for driver-less or autonomous cars, as well as safety apps, car analytics and telematics, motion sensors, in-car technology and, of course, cyber security will all be standard in the next generation of cars.

As the auto industry changes, so do consumer needs and behaviors. Inefficiencies like sitting in traffic in addition to high costs and dangers on the road have pushed both car and technology companies to meet consumer demands. Indeed, the automotive industry is modernizing and Israel is well equipped to handle the change and is paving the road to the future.

Looking Ahead
The Israeli automotive sector is showing no signs of slowing down. Many foreign car makers have already put roots down in Israel. General Motors already have a research center there and Renault and Daimler are following suit. Ford, Toyota, Subaru, Honda, Volvo, BMW, Audi, Mazda, and others have a strong presence there.

There are hundreds of starts up in the auto sector but, here are few to keep eyes on:

  • Nexar uses artificial intelligence to analyze road conditions
  • Vayavision uses artificial intelligence to create sensor technology for autonomous driving
  • Otonomo is a car data exchange platform that allows car manufacturers, app developers, and service providers to safely exchange car-generated data for a better connected-car experience.
  • Aquarius Engines aims to redesign and change the 130-year old piston engine to be the most fuel efficient engine on the market.

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