REE Emerged From Stealth Mode with High-tech Wheels

If you ask REE from Tel aviv what is different in the car of the future, it will probably say that new electric cars need new electric wheels. Last week the company emerged from its stealth mode with a revolutionary flat and modular platform, based on a new design of the traditional wheels. By integrating all of the components formerly found under the hood of the car into the wheel, REE offers optimal freedom of design and multiple body configurations on a single platform. It also reduces vehicle size and weight, and increases energy efficiency.

REE’s engineers had placed the motor, steering, suspension, drive train, sensing systems, brakes, thermal systems and electronics into the wheel. This design provides a low center of gravity to maximize efficiency and supports the vehicle’s agility and stability. It drastically reduces a vehicle’s footprint, weight, and improves both energy efficiency and performance.

According to the company, its technology provides the basis of any type of vehicle from a high-performance car able to do 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds to an off-road SUV with advanced active suspension technology. The platform can also be used as the base of a robotaxi or even a 10-ton cross country truck. “Until now, the industry has operated by making incremental improvements on the traditional design,” said Daniel Barel, Co-Founder and CEO of REE. “At REE, we believe that in order to hasten the automotive revolution we need to reinvent the wheel – quite literally.”

REE is already collaborating with leading OEMs and Tier-1/Tier-2 automotive companies including Mitsubishi Corporation, Musashi Seimitsu Industry, Tenneco, American Axle, FCA and NSK. Mitsubishi Corporation commented, “We can see REE’s technology has huge potential in the autonomous driving world, as it makesthe electrification process highly efficient with its new modular platform.”

Innoviz: $170M Funding Round for Solid-State LiDAR

Innoviz Technologies, from Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, has closed its Series C funding round with $170 Million secured. This is a much bigger round compare to the company’s expectation of $132M (March 2019). Innoviz provides solid-state LiDAR sensors and perception software to enable mass-production of autonomous vehicles, and had been chosen by BMW to supply the LiDAR sensors of its future autonomous car. The brings Innoviz’s total funding to $252 Million.

The announced that the funding will support several key initiatives, including the enhancement of Innoviz’s perception software. This software support the sensors by providing vehicles with a deep understanding of the 3D driving scene, including object detection, classification, segmentation and tracking. In addition, Innoviz has secured two computer vision industry experts, Dr. Raja Giryes and Or Shimshi, to serve as strategic collaborators to the software.

Dr. Raja’s experience includes senior academic and research roles and a doctorate in computer science. Or brings significant private sector experience managing teams and serving in advisory roles for computer vision, deep learning, machine learning and AI with Samsung Semiconductors, Intel, Qualcomm and Citi Bank. Innoviz will also accelerate its path to mass production and commercialization.

The company expects that its InnovizOne automotive-grade LiDAR solution to enter series production in 2021 for global automakers. The company’s high-performance, solid-state LiDAR solution InnovizPro is available now, offering better performance as well as mapping and other applications.

Vishay Siliconix and TowerJazz Expand Automotive Manufacturing

Vishay Siliconix new portfolio of power semiconductor products will be produced two of TowerJazz’s worldwide IATF16949 qualified manufacturing facilities. “With the ongoing increase of electronic content, automotive has been the main driver of growth in our industry,” said Serge Jaunay, Vishay MOSFET Division Head. TowerJazz is ranked as Vishay Siliconix’s number one foundry.”

Towerjazz received the certification in May, 2018, and today, four of its plants are qualified for IATF16949: Fab 1 and Fab 2 in Migdal Haemek, Israel; Fab 3 in Newport Beach, California and Fab 9 in San Antonio, Texas. According to IC Insights, the automotive IC market reached record revenue of $32.3 billion in 2018 and is expected to remain the fastest growing IC market with a CAGR of 12.5%, exceeding $43 billion in 2021.

This market is expected to be dominated by analog ICs, power management including power MOSFETs, visual and non-visual sensors, RF, and lighting. Vishay Siliconix utilizes TowerJazz’s Transfer Optimization and development Process Services (TOPS) for its low-and high-voltage power MOSFET products. These services includes the development of next-generation custom processes. “Vishay Siliconix is our highly valued customer and partner”, said Zmira Shternfeld-Lavie, Senior VP and GM of TOPS Business Unit in TowerJazz.

I.D. Systems to Acquire Pointer Telocation for $140 Million

It is not clear whether this is a merger or an acquisition, but the bottom line is clear: The provider of wireless M2M solutions for managing assets and vehicles, I.D. Systems from New Jersey, is paying $140 million for the Israeli based Pointer Telocation. Pointer provides Wireless solutions and cloud-based software platform for Mobile Resource Management (MRM). Its annual 2018 sales reached $77.8 million, compared to $53 million of I.D. Systems.

The acquisition will be effected through a holding company structure: I.D. Systems and Pointer will each become wholly-owned subsidiaries of the newly-created PowerFleet, Inc., which is expected to be dual listed on Nasdaq and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The transactions will be funded through a combination of a $50 million convertible preferred equity investment by Abry Partners and a $30 million debt financing by Bank Hapoalim (Israel).

The Acquisition expected to close in the Summer of 2019. Following the approval, I.D. Systems CEO, Chris Wolfe, and CFO, Ned Mavrommatis, are to lead the combined company with Pointer CEO, David Mahlab, to serve as CEO International. Pointer CFO, Yaniv Dorani will serve as Deputy to CEO International. “The acquisition combines our product leadership in North America with Pointer’s technology and broad international footprint,” said Wolfe.

Mahlab (photo above) said the deal is about to increase Pointer’s penetration in North America, “as well as expand our share of the global multi-billion-dollar IoT telematics market.” Today Pointer Telocation is engaged in a  technological collaboration with Microsoft Israel, building an AI system for modeling and understanding driver behavior. The system will learn based on the large volume of driver behavior data collected by Pointer historically as well as on an ongoing basis. The analysis will be performed using Microsoft Azure cloud.

Pointer’s goal is to build a predictive system for driver behavior. The system will be able to forecast those drivers which are more likely to be involved in a future road accident in light of the way they drive and their history. It will also be able to indicate which component of their driving needs improving, in order to reduce their risks