France’s second largest car maker Renault has this week suspended three of its executives for suspected industrial espionage.
The three senior managers have been suspended after an investigation carried out over a number of months found that they had leaked company secrets to competitors. It is thought to involve Renault’s electric car development which the company is funding with around Eu200m per year.
Renault’s senior vice president Christian Husson told news wire AFP today that the situation involves “persons in a particularly strategic position in the company” and that a “body of evidence (has been amassed) which shows that the actions of these three colleagues were contrary to the ethics of Renault and knowingly and deliberately placed at risk the company’s assets.”
French Industry Minister Eric Besson said that France could face an “economic war” if the situation is as serious as it appears. The automotive industry is a massive employer in France – accounting for around 10% of all French workers – and is one of its biggest contributors to GDP.
“It appears to concern the electric car, but I do not want to go further,” said Besson.
Renault expects electric cars to make up 10 per cnet of its sales by 2020.