Industrial Espionage: Not Just For China Anymore

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The recent arrest of a Ford employee on charges of industrial espionage may have been enough to scuttle Ford’s sale of Volvo to Chinese firm Geely. Or, as Bertel Schmitt reports, perhaps the spy story was just a convenient excuse to get more money out of the deal. But whether as a legitimate concern or strategic fearmongering, industrial espionage is hot right now. The Freep reports three former GM-Daewoo employees have been charged with spycraft, for allegedly transferring “critical GM technology” to Russian automaker tagAZ. The technology in question: engine and component designs for Daewoo’s outgoing (J-200 model) Lacetti, predecessor to the Cruze. And GM claims tagAz’s new C-100 sedan (above) looks a little too similar to the Lacetti in question. “It’s pretty close, if not dead on,” say GM-Daewoo spokesfolks. “The J-200 may not be a new vehicle for a lot of developing countries, but for a lot of emerging markets, it’s a very aspirational vehicle.” And it’s been a best-seller in Russia. TagAZ denies that it stole designs from Daewoo, saying it spent four years and $250m developing the C-100. But it also hired “a number” of former Daewoo engineers, according to GM, which is probably the most legitimate way to steal a good design. But with GM possibly wavering on the Opel deal, will this latest espionage raise doubts about the wisdom of selling Opel to another Russian firm? It probably should.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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