Cars in Israel


I just returned from two weeks in Tel Aviv, and wanted to share some observations about the auto scene there. When my daughter moved there two years ago, I asked what kind of car her fiance had. She informed me “Dad,nobody here has their own car, there’s too much traffic and no place to park”. I was curious as to when the spirit of the great Yogi Berra had invaded my daughter. She wasn’t kidding, the traffic is murder, much like Manhattan. and parking is a major problem. What I found most interesting were the car brands that have never been seen in the US (Skoda) and the brands long gone from the US, but common in Israel (Peugeot,Renault, and Citroen). The most common brand I observed on the streets was Hyundai, with Mitsubishi running a close second. The only US brand I saw in that time was one forlorn Ford Focus of indeterminate vintage. Since we didn’t have access to a car during our visit, we made frequent use of the Israeli equivalent of Uber, so i got to ride in lots of different cars, The most common car amidst the ride share drivers were Mercedes C class sedans with diesel engines. It was strange to see start/stop technology employed in diesels. Much more obtrusive than in gasoline powered vehicles. I also rode in a few Renault Fluence sedans. French cars still have a smoother ride than the ones we drive here. You also won’t see any pickup trucks on the roads, outside of those driven by tradesmen. Both cars and SUV’s are much more expensive there as a consequence of both import duties and the 17% national sales tax. There is no “car culture” there. Cars are simply a transportation appliance. It’s a very different culture, and I’m very happy to be back in the US.


It is always interesting to get a perspective from outside the US. I guess there must not be much of a public transportation system?


No subways, a lightly used regional rail line, and tons of busses that can’t move because of the traffic. Think Manhattan without subways

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I have sometimes found walking is as fast as public transportation. I do a few conventions in Chicago, and rather than decipher the where to get on and off and transfer, I may walk a couple of miles. Though in rain events they do offer a $5 visitor pass unlimited rides for 1 day, you have to buy at a walgreens or somewhere, that is pretty sweet!


My daughter does walk most places

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This all makes sense. Any country without a car industry and no oil makes driving expensive since cars could virtually bankrupt a country. Denmark has the same problems and also makes driving expensive.

US- size cars make no sense at all there for obvious reasons. I spent 3 weeks on a vacation in The Netherlands and saw 4 US full size cars. One was a wedding limo, the other driven by a US Air Force officer (base nearby) and the other 2 were Dutch federal government ministerial cars!!
I saw no pickup rucks at all but many small minivans that doubles as light freight carriers. The Dutch have lots of oil but refine or export most of it. Gasoline sells for about $2.00 per liter or more than $7.60 per gallon. My cousin covered the whole country selling software and had a 6 cylinder Nissan Laural diesel , one size up from a Sentra. Nice car with great fuel mileage.

Narrow streets, expensive parking and no local auto industry makes driving expensive. These countries have a superb public transit system as a rule.

The US and Canada are blessed with oil, a car industry, lots of parking in most areas, and long distances to be covered. No wonder we like roomy cars with a good ride.


Turn back the clock 60 years, Studebaker had an assembly plant in Israel.


Skoda cars were sold in the US in the early 60s, they were overpriced for what they were and didn’t stay long. Although I remember them, most references on the internet claim they were never sold here, I found two references. One was a 2016 article titled " Will Skoda Return to America?"

A lot of cars tried to make it in the US in the late 50s and early 60s. Anyone seen a Wartburg lately? or how about a DAF? , an NSU anyone?


I remember that DAF had the first all mechanical CVT, and NSU had the first rotary engine.


Skoda became a subsidiary of VW in 1991, they’re now known for making lower price versions of VW’s performance models.


Yeah that I think is what I was told that the Skoda was a lower version VW but with a lot of the same parts. To be honest I just don’t remember what kind of cars were in Israel. Much like Europe I think but we took a bus everywhere or walked. I do remember the automatic elevators on the Sabath though because pushing an elevator button was a forbidden form of work. Not everyone though, just the traditionalists.


As those brands doesn’t exist anymoore within the car market, You’ll have to wait a long time to see them comming. Volvo bought Daf’s car branch in the seventies, NSU was bought by VW/Audi late sixties and they killed the name ca -74, Wartburg they, well, they just died in the nineties duo to two-stroke engines, early sixties design, no quality and no money to redesign.


You can get a Daf brand new today, but they don’t do well as “grocery-getters”. Unless you do a heck of a lot of shopping. :money_mouth_face:


Yes, they were!
As a kid, I went to the NY Auto Show every year, and I recall that Skoda had a presence at that show for several years–albeit a fairly pathetic presence. Most manufacturers had a generous amount of floor space, with anywhere from 5 to… maybe… 8 models displayed. By contrast, Skoda’s display area was–literally–underneath a stairway, and they had one car on display.

In fact, it was the same car that they brought back every year for at least 3 years!
It appeared that the importer kept this one display model on hand for the auto show, and they trotted it out every year–until they disappeared from the US marketplace.


In the early post was years, there was not the plethora of good small cars to chose from. When I lived in Holland in the 50s, the local doctor and dentist both drove imported Chevrolets. By the 60s large GM German Opel; models like Kapitan and the French Ford Vedette started to replace US cars. British Triumph also had a mid size car that was gaining popularity in Continental Europe.

Many manufacturers had a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) division that would sell there cars to countries with high import duties and assembled them in those markets like IKEA furniture. Kaiser had a plant in Rotterdam, but it did not last long.

Foreigners always liked the comfort and relative reliability of US cars. My cousin in Holland was married in 1960 and was driven in a Ford “limousine” , a black 4 door sedan.


I remember the Triumph Herald. I would see them more often than expected.


The Triumph model that never made it to America was fastback resembling a 1948 Ford. It actually could seat 3 in the back and had front bucket seats. I believe it was called the Triumph 2000, probably because of the 6 cylinder engine size. The car was a middle management model and bought by professionals as well. The average Brit could note hope to own one. It sported the first metallic green paint I had ever seen on a car.


It was the same because it came from a communist country that controlled the means of production. There was no competition, so there was no reason to change. Common problem in communist/socialist countries. Ladas, Trabants, Yugos, Wartburgs, Skodas or Zastavas stayed nearly the same for 20-30 years because of this.


There is a book called “The Worst Cars Ever Built” and the Wartburg, Skoda, Lada, Trabant and others are some of those luminaries!

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Skoda has become pretty neat under VW:


I have that book, and although it is amusing and sometimes enlightening, it also reveals that the author had scant understanding of a car’s mechanical systems.