Israel's roads: It's even worse than you think

Publication Date08 November 2021
AuthorDubi Ben-Gedalyahu
The cumulative figure of 288,000 vehicles for the year to date represents a rise of only 15% over the figure for the corresponding period of 2019, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In other words, the market has recovered the sales lost in 2020 because of lockdowns and the economic situation.

But the "bottom line" approach is misleading in this case. 2021 has so far been an exceptional year for car sales, which have been constrained by supply rather than by demand, and we have seen the start of trends that will have a significant impact in the coming years.

Net addition grows

In normal years a not insubstantial proportion of new vehicles that appear in the formal delivery lists do not actually reach the end customer and do not go onto the roads. This happens for example in the case of vehicles bought by leasing companies for their stocks in order to be sold to customers as "secondhand from leasing", sometimes many months after the purchase, in what is known as the "zero kilometers market".

Also in this category are vehicles imported into Israel but unsold twelve months after their manufacturing date, in which case the importers have to register them as though sold to themselves ("self-licensing"). To these can be added vehicles bought by car hire companies with low usage. The assessment in the industry is that in a normal year vehicles sold on paper that do not go onto the roads that year account for 15-20% of sales.

In 2021, however, this category almost completely disappeared because of the global shortage of vehicles, the jump in local demand, and evaporating stocks. At the same time, stocks of fairly new used cars held by trade-in and leasing companies were also quickly depleted because of delays in supplying new vehicles, which translated into demand for secondhand ones. Thus the net addition of vehicles to Israel's roads in 2021 was considerably higher than in normal years.

Infrastructure not keeping pace with purchases

This is one of the direct reasons for the sharp increase in traffic, which is felt subjectively by anyone on the roads, and can also be measured empirically. The latest data gathered by Waze, for example, and published in late October, show a rise of 30% in traffic density in major urban centers in comparison with the period before the pandemic.

It is very doubtful whether Israel's transport infrastructure can for very long support the rate of increase in traffic and in the number of private vehicles, reinforced by rapid...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT