Renault Suspends Executives Over EV Industrial Espionage

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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…

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5 of 6 comments
  • Mazder3 Mazder3 on Jan 05, 2011

    Bloomberg names one of the individuals involved: Michel Balthazard, vice president for advance engineering. That's pretty high up on the totem pole.

  • SV SV on Jan 05, 2011

    I kind of doubt it but I wonder if this is at all related to Renault's total inability to stop leaks out of their design studio. The current Scenic minivan was leaked months ahead of its release, and the design of the next-generation Clio subcompact is already floating around the internet - I don't even know when it's supposed to enter production.

  • Forraymond Forraymond on Jan 05, 2011

    So, which Chinese company now has all the Renault technology? And how much did they pay these guys to lie, cheat and steal? I gather that the Chinese have problem flaunting intellectual property laws. WOW "the now boss is just like the old boss"...also stolen, sorry

    • Helius Helius on Jan 05, 2011

      Isn't it just a little too soon to be pointing fingers? In any general direction?

  • 202mph 202mph on Jan 06, 2011

    Of course they were ripe for espionage... For years they billed themselves a " The one to watch." Now they complain when someone finally does? ----------------------------- But seriously, the list of suspects can't be real long... I mean... who the hell is so desperate they need to steal ideas from Renault? (rim shot) ================== OK Ok Ok All of the above is humor, nobody be offended.