Automotive News [sub] reports that three Renault executives, including one who works for the automaker’s electric vehicle development program, have been suspended without pay pending an industrial espionage investigation. According to a Renault source
[The investigation] involves people who were caught red-handed for industrial espionage. Renault is a victim in this story. The group is a bit worried about its electric vehicle program — it hopes that its leadership in this technology won’t be threatened.
One of the suspended executives was reportedly a member of Renault’s management committee, a fact which indicates that espionage could have taken place at the highest levels of the company. Renault is a partner of Nissan, which has bet heavily on electric vehicle technology, and plans on launching three electric vehicles this year. Renault is also the official EV supplier for Project Better Place, an international battery-swapping infrastructure company which is developing EV support infrastructure in Israel, Denmark, Australia, Japan, China and Hawaii, California and Canada. Nissan and Renault are jointly investing some $5.27b in electric vehicle technology, so the stakes couldn’t be much higher. Still, Renault spokesfolks tell the FT
What was discovered was serious enough to lead to a suspension. But the investigation is still continuing and until it is complete, we cannot say whether there was wrongdoing
More as the story develops…