PM Netanyahu Directs the Advancement of a Multi-Year Plan for the Development of Smart Transportation in Israel
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning (Sunday, 6 November 2016), directed that – in the coming weeks – a decision be submitted for Cabinet approval in the framework of which a multi-year plan will be approved on developing smart transportation in Israel, which will strengthen existing activity and establish Israel as a global leader in the field.
This directive came in the context of an in-depth annual briefing to ministers that was given at morning's Cabinet meeting by Prime Minister's Office Alternative Fuels Administration Director Eyal Rosner on the national plan for alternative fuels. During the discussion, emphasis was placed on the fact that in the wake of accelerated technological progress in recent years, the global focus in the field of transportation has been centered on smart transportation: Autonomous, cooperative electric vehicles that are capable of communicating with each other and their surroundings. To this end, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Avi Simhon, in conjunction with the Transportation Ministry and the PMO Alternative Fuels Administration, to submit a properly formulated plan – with measurable goals for the coming years – to the Cabinet.
In the PMO Alternative Fuels Administration Director's briefing, it was learned that since the inception of the plan, the number of companies active in the field has risen from 60 to 500 and that investments in the field (over five years) are double the government's targets and have reached NIS 9 billion. The number of research groups currently stands at 220 with approximately 2,500 personnel.
The plan, the goal of which is to serve as a global incentive in advancing the use of alternative fuels, was launched in 2011, in cooperation with ten government ministries, with a NIS 1.5 billion budget over ten years.
In recent years, Israel has positioned itself as a global leader in the field and has signed a large number of cooperation agreements with motor vehicle companies that see Israel as a developing global center for innovative technologies in the field of smart transportation. For example, the methanol project in cooperation with Fiat Chrysler led to the first car in the world that runs on all types of liquid fuel.
Additionally, the program encourages world class researchers, via the annual Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation, worth $1 million. The fourth annual Fuel Choices Summit was held last week; the prize was awarded to Northwestern University Professor Mercouri Kanatzidis and MIT Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos. Over 2,000 guests attended the summit, including 300 from overseas, from over 30 countries, as well as 40 multi-national firms.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "One of the things we have been giving special attention to over the past five years is to find alternatives to fuels for use in public transportation. The use of gasoline, petroleum, is mostly for public transportation. We are trying to promote the global liberation from this dependence and Israel is becoming a global leader in finding alternatives for petroleum-based fuels. We are doing this in order to create a cleaner, healthier and better world.
We see this as central and important, and point out with satisfaction that many start-ups have now arisen in Israel that are developing alternative energy and revolutionary methods for more efficient, safer and cleaner transportation."
Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Eyal Rosner, who will be stepping down in the coming weeks after four-and-a-half years and said, "I would like to thank you Eyal for your service to the country. We set a very great goal for Israel and a giant international goal."
National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Avi Simhon said, "Israel has a rare opportunity to lead the smart transportation world thanks to our unique know-how in the fields of big data, cyber, image processing and others. If the Government of Israel acts now in a correct and timely manner, we will be able to assist in creating many more leading Israeli companies on a global scale such as Mobileye, Waze and Gett, and make a considerable contribution to our economic growth."
PMO Alternative Fuels Administration Director Eyal Rosner said, "The global transportation industry has undergone a revolution in recent years – a smart transportation revolution that means connected, cooperative and electric transportation. The change is being made possible due to global processes in the field of computerization, analysis and the transfer of information, and the world of personal communications – cellular phones. Smart transportation allows us to adjust between demand and supply, create more dynamic transportation – according to demand, which will contribute to a shift from wasteful mobile means (in the field, and with fuel, time and money) to more efficient, safer, cleaner and cheaper mobile means. Smart transportation will contribute to lower traffic congestion, fewer accidents, a lower cost of living and lower air pollution from transportation. Even today, the State of Israel constitutes a center of knowledge and industry in the field of smart transportation. With over 500 start-ups and companies in the field, and investments of over $2 billion in recent years, this field constitutes a significant growth engine for the Israeli economy at a time when automotive manufacturers are looking to Israel for solutions and ideas for the future of the industry."
Earlier, the Cabinet discussed the development of economic links with China. Prime Minister's Office Director General Eyal Groner briefed ministers on the results of the visit to Israel by a senior delegation from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, the members of which met with Prime Minister Netanyahu last week.
The Chinese delegation included over 200 senior administration and business figures, led by the commission's deputy chairman. In the framework of the visit, a bilateral memorandum of understanding was signed to advance economic ties. Also, 15 agreements were signed on cooperation projects between Chinese and Israeli companies.
PMO Dir.-Gen. Groner said that the Chinese showed great interest in economic cooperation and added that they were interested in investing in Israel and acquiring Israeli know-how in various fields. He also noted that that there has been an increase in the scope of Chinese investments in, and tourism to, Israel as a result (inter alia) of the operation of a direct air link from Beijing to Israel by a Chinese company.