While listening to Krista Tippet’s National Public Radio program “On Being” recently I learned of the Hebrew expression familiar to Jews: “tikkun olam.” The expression captures what is described in Wikipedia as an obligation observed by all Jews “to repair the world.”
To be sure, this is an over-simplification of the meaning of the expression. The source and meaning is disputed by some, but the sentiment resonates with Jews and non-Jews alike. In the automotive industry, though, we are all Jews.
Having attended the 7th Annual Ecomotion event in Tel Aviv this week, I can attest to the organic reality of tikkun olam. Hundreds of Israel-based startups are working in the automotive industry and dozens of these companies exhibited at or attended Ecomotion this week in Tel Aviv.
Dozens of technology scouts from transportation companies and venture capitalists from around the world also attended the event. At the core of many of the startup companies is a vision for delivering enhanced automotive safety systems of one sort or another – along with a host of mobility-oriented startups seeking to transform transportation.
All of the executives at these companies working on safety, mobility, cybersecurity, and data analytics can be said to be touched by tikkun olam. In this respect, as executives in the automotive industry, we are all similarly touched. We are all Jews. We share an obligation to fix the world.
We are representatives of an industry that is responsible for 1.3M highway fatalities annually. We are obliged to do something about this.
I moderated a panel discussion at Ecomotion with executives from Vayyar, Arbe Robotics and Magna – all of whom are working on safety systems intended to save lives. I was heartened that each of these panelists recognized their responsibility to take on the task of enhancing automotive safety without hiding behind the favorite industry dodge of blaming drivers.
The Israeli automotive startups attending and exhibiting at Ecomotion reflect the industry-wide effort to reduce or eliminate those 1.3M highway fatalities. The effort embodies an acceptance that car companies and cars can do a better job of helping humans avoid fatal outcomes while driving.
We are all in this together in the automotive industry. While Ecomotion had its greatest success yet with more exhibitors, more attendees and more ideas for solving transportation problems than ever before. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for all of us in the automotive industry to take stock of what we can do to overcome the challenges of cost, performance, and fuel efficiency to design and deliver safer cars.
The ultimate measure of our acceptance of this obligation is to recognize the need to help drivers overcome their weaknesses and limitations. We are bringing a consumer product to market that is killing our customers. We can, we will, we must do better. We can no longer blame the customer for the shortcomings of our products when we have the necessary technologies within our grasp. Shalom.
EcoMotion Startup Exhibition Map: https://www.ecomotionweek.com/startupexhibition
EcoMotion Booklet 2019: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/58e7a8_7549365fc92640bbb52e306ec83ba5b2.pdf