Israelis could soon see a lot more American cars on their roads, after Israel and the United States signed a deal last week that increased cooperation on transportation issues, enhancing the import and export of parts and vehicles.
Although it is generally not well known, Israel has a substantial automotive industry, based mostly on parts and technology. Among the better-known Israeli car exports is the MobilEye safety system, which alerts drivers when they get too close to the vehicle in front of them.
The deal was signed between Israel's Transport Ministry and the National Highway Safety and Transport Agency in the US, and will increase knowledge exchanges and experience between the two sides.
Among the first issues the deal will cover will be to enable Israel to import more US-made vehicles. Although most of the American carmakers sell models in Israel, they are generally models made for the European market.
American-made cars are not allowed into Israel because of Israel's agreements with the European Union, which has different standards for the headlights on vehicles – different standards that have proven to be the major stumbling block in efforts to export American-made cars to Israel. The standards differences involve the way headlights are aligned on vehicles; European and Israeli model headlights point slightly to the right and left, making them, in the opinion of local officials, “easier on the eye” for oncoming traffic. American-made vehicles, according to the officials, are aligned more straight, giving oncoming drivers a “blinding” effect.
Both sides said they were confident the issue could be resolved. Commenting on the agreement, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that “already we have worked out arrangements to bring in more American-made models, and we have pending legislation that will increase the number of volumes we can import. I am confident that we will soon see a much wider variety of imported models, which will increase choice and competition for Israeli consumers.”