There is no manufacturer of cars, trains or airplanes in Israel, yet the country is esteemed as a leader of transportation technology. As the world is moving into electric mobility, startups on novel car tech are mushrooming in the country, attracting big investors from the established auto industry.
According to data from Start-Up Nation Finder, the number of Israeli startups on cars has more than doubled over the past decade - from 207 in 2011 to more than 450 so far. Their innovations range from hardware, software, equipment to service platforms, and they are making contributions to global transition to cleaner energy.
Israel has relatively low electricity prices, high fuel prices, as well as natural gas reserves, allowing it to push the market to adopt EVs based on electricity produced from natural gas.
Accounting and consulting firm BDO in 2021 said Israel could be a global leader in the transition to EVs, but its growth was impeded by poor infrastructure, especially its electricity grid. Israel was not ready yet to support the 215,000 electric vehicles that are expected to be in use within four years, the firm was quoted as saying by The Media Line.
The Israeli government in 2020 estimated that the ratio of EVs to its cars would grow from 3% to 16% by 2025, while expecting EVs to make up 51% of new car sales by 2030.
Ban on fossil fuel cars
The Israeli government has also declared the goal to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 though there are questions about how it is going to meet the target. Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said the country is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, which should be translated into faster transition to EVs.
A report by Israeli Ministry of Energy in 2021 showed that the country would need about 60,000 slow-charging stations and 1,000 fast-charging stations by 2030, with their installation budgets estimated at US$291 million. The country has installed 2,500 slow-charging and fast-charging stations.
EV sales rising in Israel
In the first five months of 2022, 6,900 electric cars were delivered in Israel, representing 5.2% of all car sales, compared with just 1.2% over the same period of 2021, according to a report by The Globes.
The report cited Israeli car industry sources as saying that there is a backlog of over 12,000 orders for EVs. By end-2022, EVs would account for more than 8% of the country's new car sales if importers succeed in delivering them to customers.
From January to November 2021, Tesla delivered 5,280 vehicles to Israel, accounting for 55% of the country's EV market. In second place was the MG ZS EV made by China's SAIC Motor, with a market share of 15.3%, followed by the U5 produced by China's Aiways, with a market share of 4.4%, according to The Globes.
Big carmakers seeking cooperation
Israel is known for its strengths in hardware-software integration, semiconductors, IoT, AI, radar, cybersecurity, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), satellite communications, machine vision and sensing technologies.
Its technological and innovative capabilities have attracted investments from big automakers. General Motors, Hyundai Motor, Bosch, and Mercedes-Benz Group have established R&D centers in Israel. Hyundai and Ford have also set up tech scouting offices there.
Israeli startups could become pioneers of next-generation EV technology. For example, StoreDot said it has developed extreme-fast charging (XFC) batteries, including one that can power an EV for up to 100 miles in a charge of five minutes (100in5). According to its website, the product will be upcoming in 2024, followed by other models (100in3 and 100in2) in 2028 and 2032.
StoreDot has secured an investment by Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the venture capital arm of Volvo Cars, according to Volvo's press release in April 2022, though it did not disclose the investment amount.
The investment was reportedly led by Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast and involved other investors such as Mercedes-Benz, Ola Electric, BP Ventures, Samsung Electronics, TDK, and EVE Energy.
Another Israeli firm REE Automotive is developing an EV manufacturing platform with modular configuration. It has inked cooperation programs with Japan's carmaker Hino Motors (Toyota's subsidiary), Canada's auto parts maker Magna International, and France's self-driving tech developer Navya.
Israel's major EV startups
Extreme-fast charging batteries
Smart cloud-based platform for EV energy management
Smart 3D electrodes architecture
Electric powertrain systems for e-mobility platforms
Wireless charging of EVs
EV manufacturing platform
Flywheel energy storage technology for EV Charging
Cathode and anode materials
Electric motors with new patented topology
Aluminum-air and zinc-air batteries
Compiled by DIGITIMES, June 2022
Major EV makers by market cap
Note: Data as of June 9 without including makers of hydrogen-powered cars
Source: CompaniesMarketCap.com, compiled by DIGITIMES, June 2022