An Israeli-Made Car (With Help From China, India)?

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Israeli-made Susita
The Israeli-made Susita

Not since 1980 has Israel manufactured its own automobile, but lately there’s talk about making another try.

This time, however, the Israelis will not go it alone.

Qoros Auto, the joint venture of Israel Corporation and China’s Chery Automobile, may collaborate with India’s Tata Motors to put the new Qoros on the road, Globes reported on Monday.

At last week’s Geneva Motor Show, Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata met with Israel Corp. executives at the Qoros pavilion where the Qoros 3 sedan was having its debut.

Reuters quoted Israel Corp. controlling shareholder Idan Ofer as saying, “Mr. Tata spent half an hour here yesterday. He was quite amazed. He loved the car.”

Tata is a major player in the auto field, owners of Jaguar and Land Rover, and rated as  the world’s eighteenth-largest motor vehicle manufacturing company, fourth-largest truck manufacturer and second-largest bus manufacturer by volume.

A model in die-cast metal of one of the few cars Israel has ever manufactured – the Susita.
A model in die-cast metal of one of the few cars Israel has ever manufactured – the Susita.

Last November, Tata and Chery began construction of a joint factory in Changsha, not far from Qoros’s new plant. Vehicle industry sources believe that a Tata-Chery-Israel Corp. hook-up could target the European and Indian markets.

Tata Motors has long sought to enter the European market with inexpensive cars that comply with European environmental and safety standards, but without much success as yet. Access to Qoros’s modular sedan chassis could give Tata what it needs for the European market as well as offering European-standard cars for the Indian market, where Tata currently only has old models.

India’s burgeoning car market has been growing rapidly in recently years, but consists mostly of cheap and polluting models. The Indian government is trying to upgrade the product, and industry sources think an Israeli-Chinese-Indian venture could be realized at the desired technical and capital levels.

Israel Corp. declined to comment on the report.

At the Geneva Motor Show, Ofer told Reuters, “I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to see that the Chinese car market is definitely going to grow. Europe for the Chinese validates the car. It gives them confidence.”

Ofer added that Qoros and Israel Corp.’s electric car venture Better Place could help each other. “China will eventually go electric,” he said. “There’s definitely synergy … We need to establish Qoros as a company. We cannot go pure electric from day one but once we are on safe ground, we can start combining forces.”

Beginning in the 1950s, Israel ventured into the auto market, but with little success.

The Sussita was the best-selling model, followed by the Carmel, the Gilboa and the Rom 1301, until the industry finally ran out of gas in 1980.

In the early 1960s, the Sussita was sold in the U.S. and Canada as the Sabra.