By on January 6, 2011
France’s industry minister Eric Besson lashed out at those who may have attempted to steal EV secrets from the French automaker Renault using the language of international relations rather than economics. He tells RTL Radio [via Automotive News Europe [sub]]
All I can tell you is that the matter seems serious, that it illustrates once again the risks our companies face in terms of industrial espionage, and economic intelligence, as we call it today. It is an overall risk for French industry. The expression ‘economic warfare’, sometimes extreme, is appropriate and this is something we should monitor in future.
To which ANE helpfully adds
France has for some years been worried about potential attacks on its industrial secrets and even has a “school of economic warfare” aimed at rooting out economic subversion.
But who is behind the alleged “economic warfare”? China is the obvious scapegoat in internet speculation, but thus far there is no proven connection between Renault’s suspended executives and any foreign company or country. The highest-ranking of the suspended execs, Michel Balthazard, was born and educated in France, and has been at Renault since 1980. And, according to French media reports, this may have less to do with foreign attackers than in-house rivalries…
L’argus [via Google Translate] reports
Remain around this matter some “bizzareries” which, not to excuse the conduct alleged suspects, may provide some explanations to help understand the context.

On the one hand, it should be noted that the strategy of “all electric” Carlos Ghosn is widely criticized in-house, including the Department “engine” but not only.

According to our records, opponents also exist in the ranks of leading executives.

Another intriguing but Google Translate-garbled passage notes
According to information revealed by our colleagues in Paris, the main problem would be leaked on the question of the manufacture of batteries for future electric vehicles, for which Renault has a number of patents in the pipeline.

A possible reconciliation with a subcontractor that was not originally selected would also be a topic of the questioning of the three white collar workers.

In any case, Renault sources note that suspensions without pay do not usually last long, and that the three executives will likely face dismissal or exoneration soon. In addition to Balthazard (Renault’s Vice President Pre-engineering, Projects and Requirements), his assistant Gerard Rochette and an assistant to Renault’s head of electric vehicles, Matthew Tenenbaum are under suspension.

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5 Comments on “French Government Terms Renault EV Espionage “Economic Warfare”...”

  • avatar

    The French do not have clean hands when it comes to industrial espionage.

    “This espionage activity is an essential way for France to keep abreast of international commerce and technology. Of course, it was directed against the United States as well as others. You must remember that while we are allies in defense matters, we are also economic competitors in the world.”

    – Retired Director of the DGSE, Pierre Marion

  • avatar

    Gasp! State-sponsored industrial espionage against the French! To discover the culprits, perhaps the French government should bug the seats on the Concorde.

  • avatar

    Would the US Government have the balls to make that statement?  One cross word about the Chinese and the end of the USA could happen quickly.

  • avatar

    This is highly ironic considering the French are considered to be the masters at industrial espionage.

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