Israeli Cabinet Ministers Will Soon Be Driving Hybrids

Toyota Prius

Israel has emerged as a global powerhouse in the developing field of smart transportation. Its leaders, however, still drive (or are driven in) conventional automobiles with old-school internal-combustion engines. But that’s going to change soon.

Israeli business publication Calcalist reports that the government has put out a tender for 1,000 hybrid vehicles that will be used by cabinet ministers and other high-ranking officials starting in the middle of the new year ahead.

The tender is ostensibly open to any authorized importer of automobiles, as long as it can furnish hybrid vehicles priced between ₪122,000 and ₪230,000 (or about $35-66k at current exchange rates). Based on those criteria, likely candidates could include the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, and Hyundai Ioniq. Hybrid versions of the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata would also be strong contenders, and several crossover SUVs could be in the mix as well– including the Kia Niro, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota RAV4 and C-HR.

Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu exits his Audi A8 armored limousine.
The Prime Minister’s armored Audi (Government Press Office)

Given the strength of its hybrid offerings, Toyota’s local importer Union Motors would appear to stand the best chance of winning the contract. Particularly if it can bring down the price for such a large order on premium Lexus hybrids like the IS sedan and UX crossover, whose base retail prices come in just above the maximum price specified in the tender.

The Israeli government had, for much of its history, favored Volvos for its top officials. However it has switched largely to Volkswagen Group models like Audis and Skodas in recent years, sold locally by Champion Motors – most notably the million-dollar armored Audi A8 ordered several years ago by the Shin Bet (Israel’s national domestic security agency) to transport the prime minister. Few if any of the Volkswagen Group’s (or Volvo’s) products currently available in Israel, however, would meet the criteria for both price and electrification.