By on January 7, 2011

We don’t know who gave which state secrets to whom at Renault. But now we know what everybody already suspected: “The Elysee has charged the DCRI (intelligence services) with an investigation. It is following a Chinese lead,” a French government source told Reuters.

If they find a smoking gun in China, then it’s war: Yesterday, France’s industry minister Eric Besson called the scandal “economic warfare.”

Reuters doesn’t know more, but found some highly suspicious activity:

“China, where auto exhaust emissions account for around 70 percent of air pollution in major cities, is pushing green vehicles heavily as part of the development of its auto industry. China’s output of electric vehicles is expected to reach 1 million units by 2020, the official Xinhua news agency said late last year.”

That should be enough of a motive.

While France’s CIA is snooping around, Renault is backpedaling. Just-auto has it that “Renault is distancing itself from claims of industrial espionage following the suspension of three employees this week.”

“Industrial espionage, we don’t mention,” a Renault spokeswoman in Paris told just-auto. “Although you read about espionage, it is not something that Renault ever mentions. We talk about serious effects, serious enough to lead to a suspension, but we never give the nature of these facts.”

So what is it really?  Germany’s Spiegel Magazine echoes Ed’s suspicions that “this may have less to do with foreign attackers than in-house rivalries.”

Der Spiegel reports that the team around Michel Balthazard, had made “disrespectful comments regarding the corporate strategy” of Renault: “EVs harbor many unsolved problems, for which there is not even a hint of a solution.” Who knows, maybe they were amongst the 200 executives that said similar things to KPMG. Of course, such impure thoughts are heresy at Renault which is betting the house on the success of EVs. “We put $ 5 billion on the table,” said Francois Bancon, chief strategist at Nissan. “If this goes wrong, we are dead.”  Blame it on the Chinese if you die.

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3 Comments on “While France Suspects China, Renault Backpedals...”

  • avatar

    Nice story. So, saying that ““EVs harbor many unsolved problems, for which there is not even a hint of a solution” is a dismissal. Great! That will show them.
    In the former Soviet Union they called it counterrevolutionary activities, defeatism. Those accused of it were banished to Siberia and all problems were solved.

  • avatar

    It’s the Tupolev 144 all over again. If, as Wikileaks has revealed just this week, France is number one for industrial espionage worldwide, then the French should realise that that’s a two-way street.

  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    I can just imagine the little tears of joy from workers at the Renault Tec department.  

    We are there, we done it! 
    Since the other the big evil dinosaur car manufactures are trying to steal our technology it must be pretty good.  

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