Yoel T. Israel

Israel Unfiltered: Israel and the Future of Mobility

Automotive technology is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, driven by a constant quest for innovation and the development of new and exciting technologies. The field is becoming increasingly sophisticated, offering drivers a range of cutting-edge features that were once only the stuff of science fiction.

Despite its lack of a traditional automotive history, Israel has managed to find its place in the industry, becoming a leading innovator of automotive technology.

Michael Granoff is an expert in the field of automotive tech investment, and the founder and Managing Partner of Maniv Mobility, a venture capital fund based in Tel Aviv which invests globally in early-stage startups in automotive, mobility, transportations and logistics. Maniv manages over $250 million with an investor base that is both financial and strategic, including automakers and suppliers from the US, Europe and Asia. To date, the fund has a portfolio of more than 35 companies across eight countries

I invited Mike onto Israel Unfiltered to discuss Israel’s involvement in the auto-tech sector, the advancement of electric vehicle technology and, as he called it, “the biggest binary blunder in the history of investing.”

“In 2006, [I] championed a bill that had, among many other things, the first incentives on electric vehicles in the world. And I latched on to that because I actually identified it as the only thing that could conceivably scale to impact the monopoly of oil in transportation,” Granoff recalled. “I learned about energy storage and batteries and came to understand that there was a scientific consensus that the price of energy storage was going to decline by an order of magnitude over a decade or so. And I told everybody I knew that I was going to bet the rest of my career on electric cars.”

“How’s that bet working out for you so far?” I wondered out loud.

“Well, the postscript to that part of the story is about six months later… I had the good fortune to meet the two most interesting people who were thinking about ideas around [electric vehicles], and I picked the wrong one,” he said.
“I made what some have described as the biggest binary blunder in the history of investing; I bet on an Israeli guy named Shai Agassi over a South African guy named Elon Musk.”

The interview progressed, and we began to discuss the evolution of car safety, which has taken both strides and missteps in recent years as the industry develops.

“Until just a few years ago, safety was moving in the right direction for several decades because of things like airbags and better engineering,” Mike said. “The reason that [car safety] has reversed course in the last few years is pretty clearly that we’re now tethered to devices and have a hard time untethering when our focus is needed on driving.”

That said, Mike acknowledged that, for the most part, things are headed in the right direction in terms of car safety, despite the unceasing grip that modern devices hold on our attention. “Obviously, like everything else in life, technology is becoming more and more a part of the driving experience, and mostly for good,” he said.

I asked Mike about his thoughts on self-driving vehicles, which I believe have the potential to solve a lot of safety issues as well as clearing up traffic congestion (once the technology has developed enough). I described a scenario in which a network of self-driving cars, supported by the government, eliminates the need for stop lights and traffic jams by enabling each vehicle to communicate with those around it, adjusting its route and speed in order to optimally transport every passenger on the road in precise harmony.

“You are describing a fairly utopian vision of autonomous driving — One that I might be too old and too jaded to think is in any way really practical,” he said. “It’s certainly unachievable in the near term, because we’re not dealing with a blank canvas, we’re dealing with existing metropolises that already have infrastructure.”

Mike concluded by remarking at the mobility industry’s unique character. “Mobility is the most demand-elastic of all industries — which is to say that, if you make it cheaper and easier for people to go places, they’ll go more places. There is no end to the potential demand for mobility.”

About the Author
Yoel Israel is a digital marketing and real estate investor, with a passion for liberal Zionism. Yoel provides an out-of-box perspective and unique interviews about Israelis in the culture. Yoel lives with his wife and daughters in Pardes Chana. He is the founder of,, and IsraelUnfiltered.