Carmakers Honda and Volvo opened a new “innovation center” in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the Israeli financial newspaper Globes reported .
The research hub was created in partnership with the car rental company Hertz, the Israeli telematics company Ituran, and DRIVE, a research center founded by Mayer Group, the official Israeli importer of Hondas and Volvos.
The Japanese car company’s Honda Xcelerator program will provide expertise and resources to Israeli startups whose technology could be applied to the automotive sector. This will also allow Honda to deepen its ties with Israel’s thriving high-tech startup scene.
“Honda Xcelerator has engaged with a broad array of startups in Israel over the last few years, working on innovative technologies with the potential to transform our future products,” Dennis Clark, strategic alliance lead for Honda Xcelerator, said in a statement. “Our partnership with DRIVE will enable Honda to collaborate even more closely with local innovators and continue to accelerate and drive innovation.”
Nick Sugimoto, the senior program director of the Honda Silicon Valley Lab, spoke at an investor summit in Jerusalem in January 2016. When asked if Honda would open a research and development office in Israel, Sugimoto replied , “We have no plans to open an office here yet, but who knows?”
“I’m very impressed by the innovation and entrepreneurial support of the startup nation and we definitely want to join forces to develop disruptive technologies for the future,” he added.
Many Israeli startups have already partnered with major car companies. Honda itself announced  last year that it was working with the Israeli startup VocalZoom to develop speech interfaces for cars and motorbikes.
Additionally, the Jerusalem-based firm MobilEye, which makes accident avoidance sensors, has reached agreements  to integrate its semiconductor chips in cars made by General Motors, Volkswagen, and Renault-Nissan. MobilEye is also is partnering  with the GM spinoff company Delphi to develop a self-driving car system by 2019.
[Photo: Wilzz99 / Wikimedia]