Volkswagen CEO in secret visit to Israel

Matthias Muller  photo: Bloomberg

Auto industry sources: Volkswagen may be planning an acquisition or an R&D center in Israel.

Volkwagen group CEO Matthias Muller made a secret visit to Israel last month. Muller, whose corporation has a €220 billion market cap, is one of the leading figures in the auto industry, and the most senior Volkswagen executive to visit Israel in recent years. Formerly previously chairman of Volkswagen, Muller was appointed CEO two years ago following the Volkswagen emissions scandal ("Dieselgate").

Auto industry sources believe that the reason for a visit to Israel by such a high-level executive could be preparation for a strategic acquisition involving an Israeli company, or possibly the establishment of an R&D center in Israel. The Volkswagen group is cooperating strategically with Mobileye(NYSE: MBLY)in auto safety systems; the two companies recently signed an agreement for installing Mobileye's mass-based mapping system in millions of Volkswagen cars. This summer, Volkswagen subsidiary Audi, one of the leading companies in the industry, which will be one of the first companies to put a production vehicle on the road equipped with the new generation of Mobileye's chips, which represent a substantial leap forward in the direction of fully autonomous capabilities. Senior Volkwagen executives regularly visit Mobileye's headquarters, however, and it is unclear if this development is connected to the visit.

During his visit, Muller met with Dr. Anat Lea Bonshtien, senior manager of technology and regulation at the Fuel Choices Initiative in the Prime Minister's Office, and with senior executives in the Allied group, which imports Volkswagen cars to Israel. The Volkswagen group currently has a $300 million strategic investment in shared transportation company Gett, but sources close to the company denied that this was the purpose of the visit. Volkswagen is also cooperating with auto cybersecurity company CyMotive Technologies, which is headed by former Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on April 3, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Matthias Muller  photo: Bloomberg
Matthias Muller photo: Bloomberg
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