Automotive > Infotainment & Telematics Blog

Israel Post-COVID: Auto Sector Open for Business

by Roger Lanctot | Mar 10, 2022

With one last unused itinerary in my United Airlines profile from pre-COVID bookings, I opted to pay a visit to the Holy Land – Start-up Nation – Israel last week. Starting out with no appointments or meetings, I ended up with 20 meetings (with some help from a friend), some of which were meals or conference calls, in a single week in a region where, for the most part, executives have returned to offices.

It is remarkable to note this return to the communal space of offices at a time when companies in the U.S. and E.U. are pondering reducing or eliminating their office spaces altogether in the face of worker disinterest or hostility to returning. No such reticence was apparent across five days of in-person meetings last week.

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SOURCE: A view from the top in Tel Aviv

To get into the country required completing paperwork, including certification of vaccination, in order to receive an Israeli “Greenpass.” The Greenpass QR code allowed me access to indoor dining and coffee shops. Retail stores, grocery stores, and fast food outlets only required wearing a mask. (At least I presume it was required or preferred. I always wore a mask as did everyone else – sometimes even outdoors. I never saw any mask-centric confrontations or disputes.)

A negative PCR test result – obtained within 24 hours of flying – was necessary to enter the country along with a PCR test (negative) (paid for prior to leaving the U.S.) upon arriving at Ben Gurion airport. (Another negative PCR test would be required within 24 hours of my departing flight.) Ostensibly a 24-hour isolation period was expected after arrival in Israel which I observed at my hotel but was not otherwise enforced as far as I could see.

The first company I visited required a rapid COVID test taken in the lobby at headquarters, but this was the only other COVID test required during the visit. Executives at that first stop said the company had instituted the testing to re-assure employees returning to the office.

So what’s happening in the automotive sector in Israel these days? A lot.

Vaccines in and masks on, Israelis are back at work. Of the 20 meetings during the week only a handful were conducted remotely due to company policies or convenience. There were one or two awkward meetings where masks were kept on the entire time – but in most instances masks came off upon commencement of the meeting.

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SOURCE: COVID humor in the workplace.

There were “war stories” of COVID infections severe and mild recently recovered from. One or two executives cancelled meetings saying they didn’t feel well. And breakthrough infections were also reported – but, being overcome, did not prevent a meeting.

Ecomotion organizers met and discussed their plans for an in-person event – Ecomotion Week 2022 – coming up May 9th-12th in Tel Aviv. Given the extent of local and global cabin fever Ecomotion Week is shaping up as a must attend opportunity for companies in the transportation sector.

Meanwhile, Israeli startups and established players have launched special purpose acquisition corporations and initial public offerings – on the New York and Israeli exchanges. There have been mergers, acquisitions, and investments. And there have been new products and strategic deals announced.

Of course, looming over all of this activity is Intel Mobileye’s initial public offering – anticipated for the end of February or early March and expected to triple the value of Mobileye from the $15.3B acquisition price paid by Intel.

Israel is open for business. Detroit, Munich, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg, Paris, Tokyo, and Silicon Valley would do well to take note. You don’t have to remove your mask to get back to business. Unless your immune system is compromised, get your shots and head back to the office. It’s time. The world is moving on - and the auto industry waits for no virus.

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