Tesla Turns To Israel For Cutting-Edge Tech

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Tesla Motors is setting up a Research and Development office in Israel to capitalize on the country's penchant for birthing innovative startups.

Israel is a hot bed for high-tech startup companies, producing such notable enterprises as navigation software developer Waze (purchased by Google) and driver assist systems developer Mobileye (acquired by Intel). Determined not to miss out on the next multi-billion-dollar idea, Tesla Motors is establishing a research and development office in the country.

For now, the office will focus on scouting for local startups and technologies that could help strengthen Tesla's future products, representing the automaker in talks and information exchanges with Israeli companies, Globes reports. In the future, however, the office could grow into something more like Tesla's Palo Alto, California R&D office, employing several dozen engineers and working directly with the Palo Alto office.

2020 Tesla Roadster Front View Driving Tesla
2020 Tesla Roadster Front View Driving Tesla
Tesla

This news comes at the same time that Tesla takes strides toward entering the Israeli electric vehicle market. The Calfornia-based EV manufacturer reportedly registered Tesla Motors Israel Ltd. in November, which is thought to be a wholly-owned import subsidiary.

According to Globes' sources, Tesla's Israeli R&D representative office will be headed up by Adi Gigi - an Israeli-born Tesla Staff Product Manager with degrees from Stanford and Bar-Ilan University.

It's unknown what specific technologies Tesla Motors is hoping to capitalize on with its new Israeli R&D office, but given the crop of high-profile machine vision startups that have launched in the country, that is one potential area of interest. Tesla is trying to stay at the fore of the automotive industry with its autonomous Autopilot system, and CEO Elon Musk most recently set a release date around mid-2020 for "full autonomy".

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But another area in which Tesla Motors might stand to benefit from Israeli startup tech is with regard to its lithium-ion batteries. In 2018, BP Ventures sunk $20 million into Israeli startup StoreDot, which is working to replace the graphite found in nearly all lithium-ion batteries with a mix of metalloids and organic compounds to deliver five-minute EV recharge times.

Such a quick recharge time would make EVs more competitive with internal combustion engine cars in terms of convenience, and would almost certainly be a game changer.

Will we see a lithium-ion battery with a five-minute recharge time in the next Tesla Roadster, or the forthcoming Tesla Model Y or Tesla Cybertruck? Doubtful; StoreDot is still likely a year or two from production, and such rapid charging still has technical hurdles to overcome. But both Tesla models could very well benefit from numerous other technical innovations sourced through its Israeli R&D office.

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