Israel’s Automotive R&D Layout
Thomas Weber, Board Member of Daimler and head of research and development for new vehicles, stated that the new center the European carmaker is planning “is aimed at boosting the global R&D array (of Daimler) with the help of Israel, the hi-tech nation.” Daimler is only one of many automotive manufacturers that have come to Israel in search of technology and talent to accelerate their efforts at building next-generation vehicles. The race of many OEMs to be the first-to-market in the autonomous vehicles space alongside their simultaneous race to not be caught off-guard by Tesla, have fundamentally changed how OEMs function. The industrial behemoths like Ford and GM were notorious for their independence. These days collaboration is the only way these OEMs will survive. In fact, some investors have predicted that within 10-15 years, half of the OEMs will no longer be around. It is do-or-die for the car manufacturers. And in their desperate effort to “do”, the automakers have come to Israel in droves.
The Israel Economic Mission to the West Coast has put together an Israeli automotive R&D map that shows all the OEMs and Tier 1s who have committed to creating R&D centers in Israel. Listed among them are unconventional auto players like Intel (who acquired Mobileye and in the process agreed to move its entire automotive research and development unit to Israel). Not among the list are OEMs and Tier 1s who have invested in companies (Ford with SAIP, Delphi with Innoviz, VW with Gett, etc.), hired scouts (Faurecia, NXP, etc.), or invested in accelerators (Honda and Volvo with DRIVE), incubators, or venture capital firms (Porsche and Jaguar Land Rover).
This list solely provides the companies who have or promised to open research and development centers in Israel. Many of these companies have gone beyond open R&D centers, and have also invested in companies in Israel. In fact, this is one of the unique aspects of the automotive R&D world in Israel. R&D centers which are traditionally solely vehicles of innovation, have also adopted the responsibility of business strategy, scouting for exciting start-ups, keeping a finger on the pulse of the broader Israeli autotech market in order to keep HQs updated and satisfied that they are not missing out on the happenings in Israel. Below are the automotive companies (and the years they were founded) that have research and development centers in Israel:
OEMs: General Motors (2008), Renault-Nissan (2016), Daimler (2016), Qoros (2016), SAIC (2017), Skoda (2017), and Hyundai (2017)
Tier 1s: Bosch (2016), Harman (2017), Intel (2017)
General Motors was the first automaker to realize the worth of opening up shop in Israel. Their center has been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development – working alongside GM’s acquisition in San Francisco, Cruise Automation, to build General Motors an autonomous vehicle. Two Chinese OEMs are represented on the list, Qoros and SAIC, both who have committed to opening up R&D centers in Israel.
The ramp up in the automotive sector’s interest in Israel is only increasing, with 4 new R&Ds announced in 2016, and 5 new R&D centers announced in 2017… and the year is not yet finished.