While France Suspects China, Renault Backpedals

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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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  • Pista Pista on Jan 07, 2011

    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.

  • Tree Trunk Tree Trunk on Jan 07, 2011

    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.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.