June 10, 2019 / 1:21 PM / 6 days ago

Renault and Nissan launch innovation lab in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Carmakers Renault and Nissan on Monday inaugurated a joint innovation laboratory in Tel Aviv, enabling their alliance to collaborate with Israeli start-ups.

A demo car with a solar roof by Israeli start-up Apollo Power, is seen during the inauguration of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's joint innovation lab in Tel Aviv, Israel June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The new operation, which has a partnership with the Israeli government’s innovation authority, is focusing on sensors for autonomous driving, cyber security and big data.

It is testing and working on more than 10 projects with Israeli start-ups, including cybersecurity provider Argus, solar energy company Apollo Power and electrical propulsion system maker IRP Systems.

Renault-Nissan alliance officials in Israel downplayed reports of strained relations between the two carmakers since the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in November.

“Today is a very good example of what we are doing together,” Gaspar Gascon Abellan, the alliance’s deputy executive vice president of engineering, told reporters.

“Speculation will run of course in the future, but at the team levels what we see is that we are collaborating very tightly and closely to develop all the new technologies.”

The lab will enable the start-ups to test their technologies in vehicles. Financial details were not disclosed.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has similar labs in Silicon Valley and in Shanghai.

“Through collaborations with promising local start-ups with cutting-edge technologies, we aim to develop a variety of key technologies that will be essential for the future of mobility,” said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, alliance executive vice president of engineering.

The new facility will also cooperate with the alliance’s venture capital fund, which plans global investment up to $1 billion over five years. It has invested in the Maniv Mobility fund in Israel though not in any local companies.

Christian Noske, direct investments director of Alliance Ventures, said the fund typically invests $10 million per start-up and plans to invest in at least one Israeli business this year.

Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer and David Goodman

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